The actual battle of San Romano took place in the course of a war between Florence and the Visconti of Milan and Siena, their ally (Borsi, 308). It was a short battle, lasting only three hours (Borsi, 310), and, although it was quite a bloody battle, the outcome was somewhat uncertain. However, Florentine sources made it a great victory (Borsi, 308), and Cosimo de Medici commissioned the painting to celebrate the triumph of the Florence forces. Such a move was undoubtedly rooted in political motives; Cosimo had just returned from exile and was eager to regain his power in Florence. The painting was to be placed in a room in his palace that was frequently used for public business affairs, and citizens and clients could subsequently view the painting and become aware of Cosimo's concern for the fortunes of Florence. The painting portrays images of a calm, organized battle taking place between two armies of toy soldier-like warriors amidst the tapestry-like setting of an orange grove, while oblivious peasants in the background work diligently in their field.
The incident which Picasso refers to in Guernica is of a different sort... [continues]
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