Corrado Cagli: “The Battle of San Marino”

Corrado Cagli, “The battle of San Marino”, 1936, Encaustic Tempera on Hollow-Core Wood, 545 x 651 cm,  Uffizi Gallery, Florence 

Born in the city of Ancona in February of 1910, Corrado Cagli was an Italian painter of Jewish heritage. Little information on his formative years is available; however, it is known that, at the age of five, his family relocated to Rome. Cagli grew up in a largely assimilated secular family, who had come to terms with its Jewish religion as antisemitism became more aggressive in Fascist Italy. His ties to his Italian heritage were always strong; even in his later years of exile from Italy, it was important for him to maintain a tie with his birth nation. 

Corrado Cagli helped organize the Gallleria La Cometa in Rome and, along with poet Libero De Libero, created an artistic circle of musicians, writers, architects, painters and sculptors. He was involved with New York’s Museum of Modern Art’s 1949 exhibition, “20th Century Italian Art” and facilitated the 1950 opening of the Catherine Viviano Gallery in New York City. Cagli was awarded the Guggenheim Prize in 1946 and, in 1954, the Marzotto Prize, given by the Marzotto fashion company for his contributions to the cultural rebirth of Italy after the war. Corrado Cagli died in Rome in 1976.

Corrado Cagli’s “Battle of San Marino” depicts the final battle of the Second War of Independence in which the Piedmont army, directed by King Vittorio Emanuele and supported by the French troops of Napoleon III, defeated in a fierce battle the Austrian forces commanded by Emperor Franz Joseph I. The battle is considered the founding moment of the Italian Risorgimento, the period leading to unification and the formation of the new state of Italy. 

The battle scene, depicted from a bird’s eye perspective, with the hectic confusion of weapons, horses, infantry and knights crushed together amid the surrounding hillsides, clearly highlights Cagli’s relationship with traditional painting styles, with influences ranging from Paolo Uccello to Piero della Francesca. Owned by Francesco Muzzi, secretary of the Cagli Foundation, and graciously loaned to the Uffizi in 1978, it was finally donated to the Uffizi Gallery in 2003.

Note: An interview between author Raffaele Bedarida and Alessandro Cassin, Director of Centro Primo Levi, entitled “Corrado Cagli, the American Years” can be found online at Printed_Matter located at:

Carlo Crivelli

Carlo Crivelli, “Saint Stephen”, 1476, Tempera and Gilding on Panel, national Gallery, London

Carlo Crivelli painted in tempera only, despite the increasing popularity of oil painting during his lifetime, and on panels, though some of his paintings have since been transfered to canvas. His predilection for decoratively punched gilded backgrounds is one of the marks of this conservative taste, in part imposed by his patrons. Of his early polyptychs, only one, the altarpiece from Ascoli Piceno, survives in its entirety in its original frame. All the others have been disassembled and their panels and predella scenes are divided among several museums.

This panel showing Saint Stephen is part of the large “Demidoff Altarpiece” made for the high altar of San Domenico in Ascoli Piceno, east-central Italy.

Saint Stephen was the first Christian martyr. He was a lay assistant to the priest of the first Christian community in 1st-century Palestine and was responsible for a daily distribution of food to the poor. Accused of blasphemy against Moses and God, he was tried by a religious council. As he spoke in defence of his belief in Christ as the Messiah, those watching him saw the face of an angel. Enraged, the council stopped the trial and took him out of the city where he was stoned to death.

Robin-Lee Hall


Robin-Lee Hall, “Upstairs”, Egg Tempera on Gesso Panel, 10 x 12 Inches

Born in London in 1962, Robin-Lee Hall studied Fine Art and Critical Studies at St. Martins School of Art and received a BA in Fine Art (Painting) at Kingston Polythechnic. He was appointed in 2008 to conduct workshops by the National Gallery in London. Hall is a member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters.

Hall works in the medium of egg tempera, a traditional way of making one’s own paint from pigments, the yolk of an egg, and small amount of water. After doing preliminary sketches, he lays the paint down on gesso panels, cross-hatching layers of color.