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c.1445-1450, Piero della Francesca

A diminutive 23 by 32 inches, this painting has been called the best small painting in the world. The subject and composition of the painting is unusual, and the iconography in the painting has been subject to much conjecture. The painting illustrates the flagellation of Christ in an open courtyard, while three unidentified men stand indifferent in the foreground. The small painting is lauded for the use of linear perspective, by portraying the men in the background at a smaller size than those in the foreground of the painting. Many interpretations surround the work, and most are focused on the three men in the foreground of the painting, who are unidentified. Theories range from the men being men of note in Piero’s time, to Pontius Pilate and other Jews, and an angel flanks by and emperor and young man.

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