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A detail from The Battle of Chosroes, the Defeat of the Persians, and Chosroes Executed before his Throne, c1454-58, by Piero della Francesca. This battle scene, from the chapel of San Francesco in Arezzo, is taken from Piero della Francesca by Ronald Lightbown (Abbeville Press / John Murray pounds 60), the best of the books published to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Piero's death. Majestically illustrated, it follows the artist's progress, from the 'fused suavity' of his first altarpiece to the luminous final Nativity. The easy command of historical context is matched by scholarly contention: 'Clark's criticism misapprehends the Virgin's action - she is not kneeling, but bowing in humble acceptance.'