Miracle of the Profaned Host by Paolo Uccello

Miracle of the Profaned Host by Paolo Uccello
Miracle of the Profaned Host by Paolo Uccello

This painting is a creation of the Renaissance artistPaolo Uccellothat he painted in tempera on a wood panel support. The painting was made between 1465 and 1469, and it is currently in the National Gallery of the Marches, of the Palacio Ducal de Urbino, in Italy.

Miracle of the Profaned Host of Uccello

Miracle of the Defiled Host of Uccello

Actually this image is part of a set of panels, which had an educational and moralizing objective. Something common at the time when it was common to try to instruct people, the vast majority of whom were illiterate, through narrative painting, as in this case.

The set revolves around the theme of transubstantiation, that is, how the consecrated bread and wine are transformed into the materialization of the body and blood of Jesus Christ. In the case of Miracle of the Profaned Host, Uccello presents us with the moment in which a woman brings unleavened bread to a moneylender, but when he tries to bake it, what causes it is that rivers of blood flow from the bread (the host) since it has been desecrated.

You have to understand the image in its historical context. At a time when Jews were rather frowned upon, there was clear anti-Semitism in 15th-century Italian society. Actually all the panels show us the differentepisodes of how a Hebrew family profane a bread already consecrated during the mass, and in the end they are executed without mercy. The message was intended to dissuade all those who might have impure thoughts, especially since they would be cruelly punished.

On the other hand, pictorially speaking, these images show us the great interest thatUccellohad in achieving perspective in his works. An approach typical of the art of the Renaissance and which reached its highest peaks with the paintings of the triptych of the Battle of San Romano by Uccello himself.

This artist was actually obsessed with questions of perspective, in fact the biographer of Renaissance artists and also a painter, Giorgio Vasari, in his work Lives He wrote that Uccello's wife used to say that her husband stayed at night in his workshop looking for the vanishing points of perspective in that room, and when the woman called him to go to bed, he appeared saying: "Oh, what a sweet perspective!”.

In this case, for each of the panels in the set he took into account the different positions that viewers of his work might have, and based on that he applied different perspectives for each episode. Something that in the image that we show here is manifested in the geometry of the paving of the floor and in the distance treatment between figures that he performs.

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