|overview of entire choir and its glorious frescoes|
For a 3D virtual tour, have a look here.
To place these frescoes* in context: the cycle was painted between 1447 and about 1466; it is preceded by Masaccio's groundbreaking work in the Brancacci Chapel of Santa Maria del Carmine (begun in the 1420s); is contemporary to Gozzoli's Magi Chapel (1459-61) in the Medici-Riccardi palace; and appears a little earlier than Mantegna's Camera degli Sposi in the Ducal Palace in Mantua (1465-74).
|a fairly faithful reproduction of the fresco with its faded, cool colouring, perhaps a little less intense than the original although it is hard to say|
|the effect is heightened here by a warm yellow light, not quite true to the original whose colours are cooler|
|the light/shade contrast is more evident in this black and white detail of the servant|
This attempt is exceptional in the art of Piero della Francesca's day. Caravaggio would not paint his striking night scenes for another 150 odd years.
|from De Prospectiva Pingendi an interesting study of a form closely resembling Constantine's tent|
|detail, Madonna and Child with Saints, 1472-1474, Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan|
*in fact these paintings use a mixed technique of fresco, tempera (egg tempera) and tempera grassa (egg tempera with oil) and recently it has been discovered that Piero's Resurrection, a far smaller work, also used a mixed technique
A curious detail which emerged after restoration of the Constantine fresco is the presence of stars in the night sky above Constantine's camp. It appears that Piero della Francesca portrayed some actual constellations in this patch of sky. The Little Dipper (Ursa Minor) with the North Star at the end of its handle, has been identified, as have Cassiopeia, the Pleiades, Aldebaran and others. Strangely, their actual positions are inverted. This is apparently owing to Piero's use of a sky map or globe for his painting, for these tools typically furnished a mirror image of the constellations.**
**For more information, see an article by Vladimiro Valerio.