A renowned Florentine painter, sculptor, draftsman, and goldsmith, Pollaiuolo is celebrated for his printed masterpiece Battle of the Nudes, among the largest of all 15th-century Italian engravings and perhaps the earliest to be signed with the full name of the artist who designed and executed it. It was one of the earliest works of Renaissance art to convincingly portray the figure in motion by suggesting how muscles behave under the strain of vigorous activity-though it is not scientifically accurate, as all visible muscles are shown flexed simultaneously. Although a work of art from the 15th century usually illustrates a story, classical text, or historical event, the meaning of the engraving remains elusive. Enigmatic today, the intricacy of the print would have appealed to an educated contemporary viewer.
The only known impression of the engraving’s first state, before the plate was re-engraved and printed
with a more densely pigmented and blacker ink, the museum’s silvery impression is one of the great
masterworks of European art.