Michelangelo and Sebastiano
15 March – 25 June 2017
Centred around two of their most iconic collaborations, this exhibition explores the artistic relationship between a pair of Renaissance masters.
Michelangelo rarely established close relationships with his contemporaries, yet he struck up an instant friendship with Sebastiano del Piombi when they met in Rome in 1511. Hailing from Venice, Sebastiano showed immense promise in working with colour, but it was Michelangelo’s tutelage in the Florentine style of drawing that greatly increased his talents.
Focusing on two key works – the Pietà and the Raising of Lazarus – this exhibition examines the artistic fruits of their camaraderie, which was borne in part out of a rivalry with the High Renaissance painter Raphael.
Loaned especially for the exhibition, the Pietà was finished in 1516 for the San Francesco church in Viterbo. An unusual night-time scene depicting the Virgin Mary praying over the dead body of Jesus, it is a superb union of Michelangelo’s anatomical accuracy and Sebastiano’s innovative use of colour.
One of the centrepieces of the National Gallery’s permanent collection, the Raising of Lazarus will demand fresh attention from visitors when presented in context. Painted between 1517-19, it was pitted against Raphael’s Transfiguration in a competition, which encouraged Michelangelo to provide Sebastiano with detailed preparatory drawings.
Earlier works are also on display, along with a wealth of correspondence between the two artists, providing insight into their collaborative creative process and addressing rumours around their subsequent parting of ways.
The exhibition is produced in partnership with Credit Suisse.
For the first time since 1644, Michelangelo’s original Risen Christ statue is leaving its monastic home in Viterbo to join the National Gallery’s exhibition. Upon noticing an imperfection in the marble near Jesus’s face, the piece was abandoned by Michelangelo and later finished by Bernini.