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The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Michelangelo & Sebastiano

Mar 19th, 2017

This spring the National Gallery presents the first ever exhibition devoted to the creative partnership between Michelangelo (1475–1564) and Sebastiano del Piombo (1485–1547), featuring exceptional loans, some of which have not left their collections for centuries.

Michelangelo & Sebastiano explores the complementary talents, yet divergent personalities, of the two artists. It encompasses approximately seventy works – paintings, drawings, sculptures and letters – produced by Michelangelo and Sebastiano before, during and after their association. Examples of their extensive, intimate correspondence offer us a unique insight into their personal and professional lives; their concerns, frustrations and moments of glory.

In 1511, Sebastiano, a young, exceptionally talented Venetian painter, arrived in Rome. He was quickly embroiled in the city’s fiercely competitive art scene. He met Michelangelo, who was working on the Sistine Chapel ceiling, and the two quickly became friends and allies against the prodigious Raphael; another recent arrival whose star was rising with the most influential patrons in Rome. As the only oil painter in the city to rival Raphael, Sebastiano was an ideal collaborator for Michelangelo, who did not care for the medium but wanted to marginalise his younger competitor. For his part, Sebastiano profited immensely from Michelangelo’s drawings and conceptual ideas. Together they created several works of great originality and rare beauty.

To evoke the experience of seeing the works in situ, groundbreaking technology will be used to present a spectacular three-dimensional reproduction of the Borgherini Chapel in S. Pietro in Montorio, Rome. Using the most advanced digital imaging and reconstruction techniques, the National Gallery will bring the chapel to London for an immersive experience of the structure much as it was created.

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Sebastiano del Piombo, Pietà, c. 1512-16. Museo Civico Viterbo © Comune di Viterbo

“This is the first exhibition of its kind anywhere, and the first to showcase the work of Sebastiano in the UK. Although highly esteemed among collectors in the 19th century, Sebastiano has since slipped from our awareness in large part due to his close association with Michelangelo, Raphael and Titian. I hope this will encourage a new look at this tremendously original artist, while highlighting an overlooked aspect of Michelangelo’s activity,”

said Matthias Wivel, curator of ‘The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Michelangelo & Sebastiano’.

Director of the National Gallery, Dr Gabriele Finaldi, says:

“The exhibition introduces us into the very heart of High Renaissance Rome, where a new and heroic art was being forged. Against a background of war and religious conflict Michelangelo and Sebastiano produced works about life, death and resurrection which are among the most powerful and moving ever made. This is a unique opportunity to see an exceptional gathering of masterpieces.”

www.nationalgallery.org.uk/michelangelo-sebastiano