by Sandro Pintus

That strange clock by Paolo Uccello

A work of art that is very popular among Israelian tourists because it contains reminders of Jewish culture can be found on the inner facade of the cathedral. It works by counting the hours after sunset until it arrives at the twentyfourth hour of the following day and the next setting of the sun; it also moves anticlockwise (as compared to modern clocks and watches). This method of measuring time seems somewhat odd to us nowadays but it was perfectly normal for our predecessors. The hours, written in Roman numerals, start from the lower part of the clock face (from the 6 of modern clocks) and continue from left to right to 24; the head of a prophet can be seen painted on each corner of the face. An exceptional machine that was built in a period that was thriving with the ideas and inventions of human culture.

The clock by Paolo Uccello(Foto FAN)
The artist who created this work in 1443 was Paolo degli Uccelli, better known as Paolo Uccello. He was a rather unusual artist who liked to paint animals which he often portrayed in unlife-like colours, as though they had come to him from hallucinations. It is thought that he was probably given the name we still know him by from this particular mania for painting birds. He had a very successful career as an artist. He started off as an apprentice at Ghiberti's workshop and working on the Doors of Paradise of the Baptistery but later set up on his own and went to work as a mosaicist in Venice at the Basilica of San Marco. He travelled a great deal, carrying out numerous commissions, and his workshop was situated in Piazza San Giovanni in Florence, close to the Duomo. He died in poverty in 1475 at the age of 78 and was buried in the family tomb in Santo Spirito, leaving many impressive works of art which, even today, can still be defined as eccentric, for the future generations.

See also: A birthday to conclude a millennium The cupola, masterpiece of Brunelleschi The machines used for the construction of the cupola Programme of the main cultural events A tour of the Duomo, reaction of the foreign tourists


FAN-Florence ART News
Silvia Messeri & Sandro Pintus

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