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The monument to the condottiere Giovanni Acuto (John Hokudo)

Painting, 1436, 514×820 cm

Description of the artwork «The monument to the condottiere Giovanni Acuto (John Hokudo)»

In Florence there is no more Grand building than Duomo – Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. It was designed to accommodate all of the then population of 90 thousand people, and over his trim worked best masters of the Quattrocento. There are two works by Paolo Uccello – clock with heads of prophets on the facade and a huge fresco "Monument to the condottiere Giovanni Acuto (John Hokudo)".

"Monument" sets the viewer (unless, of course, he is not a professional art critic or a historian) the number of regular issues. First, who is a soldier of fortune? Secondly, why does he have two names and how his name was actually Akuto or Harwood? Thirdly, why the amount of the frescoes is so impressively huge (5m 14cm wide and 8 20cm tall) and what is that supposed to mean? And, most importantly, fourth, why the mural depicts himself riding a condottiere, and his sculpture?

The condottieri in medieval Italy called those in the modern world as combatants or simply mercenaries. At the turn of XIV-XV centuries in Italy, there was 5 of sovereign States: the Venetian and the Florentine Republic, the Duchy of Milan, Kingdom of Naples and the Papal state. To resolve the inevitable military conflicts that continually erupted between these entities, and hired foreign horse guards. They were led by professionals who fought for money. Payment of the mercenaries was called a condotta, and they are, respectively, the condottieri.

One of these mercenary captains and was the Englishman John Harwood, which the Italians, in agreement with his melodious phonetics, altered it to "Giovanni Acuto". Him Florence for many years owed their independence. Harwood, led the army of Florence in the two-year war with the Papal state, and Fiorentina emerged victorious. Diplomatic and military talents of Hakuda defended Florence from the encroachments of the Duchy of Milan.

Harwood, died in 1394, but even during his lifetime by the grateful Florentines asked to put the condottiere monument in the center of Santa Maria del Fiore. Citing financial difficulties, the city authorities have not given money to the monument, limiting the mural. Soon it was destroyed. 40 years later, history repeated itself. Monument Jakwob again turned out to be too expensive an investment, and the government of Florence commissioned Paolo Uccello to paint a mural.

Most of the Florentines considered such stinginess offensive. Then Uccello was visited by a bright idea: a giant mural (its impressive scale is proportional to the role of Hakuda to the sovereignty of Florence), he will write not just a condottiere of Hakuda, but never created an equestrian monument to him. On the one hand, it will be a projection of the wishes of all Patriotic residents of the city, and on the other a witty rebuke short-sighted and avaricious Florentine authorities.

By means of painting, Uccello managed to achieve a credible illusion of the water. For this he chose the miser colors, close to the natural color of the stone sculptures and the technique, which is called chiaroscuro (from the Italian chiaroscuro – chiaroscuro).

Author: Anna Yesterday
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Portrait

Technique: Fresco

Date of creation: 1436

Size: 514×820 cm

Artwork in selections: 3 selections