Stoning of St Stephen by Paolo Uccello

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Stoning of St Stephen by Paolo Uccello

Painting NameStoning of St Stephen
Painter NamePaolo Uccello
Completion Date1435
Size310 x 420 cm (122.05" x 165.35")
Current LocationDuomo (Siena Italy)

One of Paolo Uccelo’s works in fresco is perhaps the biggest St. Stephen moment, and probably the most inspiring biblical story by the medieval painter. An Italian masterpiece with historical significance is always an attraction for someone interested in European art. The martyrdom of St. Stephen is an inspiring event, which can be seen in contemporary sense as someone sacrificing himself to protect free speech rights under a dictatorship. St. Stephen’s legend spread further and wider than Jesus, and his popularity led to the first trans-continental presence of Christianity.

Stephen was in many ways more popular than Jesus, and Uccelo is one of the main protagonists in popularizing the martyrdom, and what it had to contribute to Christian living. Much like a good disciple of Jesus, St. Stephen never made an aggressive move, took the stoning and believed it will do good, even if he wasn’t around. For Uccelo, the event is almost like the lifeblood of his clan. Being religious, Uccelo never had the doubt about the efficacy and righteousness in the way St. Stephen died.

Uccelo paints this fresco in rather brightly colored patterns, while the whiter part in all this is the halo of the martyr. The flogging is aggressive, and you may have to hold your breath to believe it was so, especially after you have spotted St. Stephen in complete peace with himself and God.

Days before the event, St. Stephen has spoken controversially about Moses, the Jewish-Roman problems and their views of God. This was in the light of the new teachings of Jesus, and their fates were sealed in the same prison by bias and tyranny. Moreover, for Christians who were in Uccelo’s society, Stephen’s death may not have been the ideal way to face the Dark Ages, but definitely something, from which they could gain moral inspiration and belief in being righteous.


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