The National Gallery’s major spring exhibition examines the close friendship and professional relationship between Michelangelo and Sebastiano del Piombo.
Right from the beginning of this exhibition, the National Gallery makes it extremely clear that there are very strong similarities between Michelangelo and Sebastiano’s work, showing an admiration and respect for each other’s work that is enjoyable to witness from the beginning to the end of their friendship.
Born ten years apart, both artists had two contrasting styles in terms of their technique but wondering through this exhibition it is clear that during the times in which they collaborated it was hugely creative and successful, with a number of work on display really celebrating this.
Well researched and deeply informative, this display features a wide range of material including letters, sculptures and sketches as well as paintings to give full context to the two artist’s personal and professional relationship.
Yet despite this, there is still something bleak about the exhibition which also runs through. The works that have been selected are very sombre and serious, matched by the bleak colours on the walls that keep the visitor interested and focused but there is no room for lightheartedness or for full appreciation about what is right in front of us because at times some of the information can come across as slightly heavy handed.
Ultimately this is a compare and contrast exhibition that is filled with technical detail that will delight anyone with a serious passion for art and has plenty of work on display that will enthral many visitors from beginning to end.
It has to be said that it is disappointing that a few of the works such as Michelangelo’s The Entombment (or Christ being Carried to his tomb) are unfinished and don’t give a full sense of the technique used by the artist to create the work. On the other side of this is the fact other works have studies alongside the completed painting, giving a great insight into the artist’s technique as an individual.
The main highlights of the exhibition are the incredibly delicate but detailed studies that are dotted around the display, providing insights into each artist’s own unique style in creating their art and how it could have been used to help them collaborate together – despite their final artistic disagreement over the creation of the Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel in 1536.
Despite the sombreness of the exhibition, there is a quite serenity and peacefulness that sweeps over you as you wonder through the exhibition that adds to the enlightening experience overall.
Overall, deeply fascinating and informative this is an exhibition that fans of art will not want to miss.
The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Michelangelo & Sebastiano will be on display at the National Gallery from the 15th March until the 25th June. For more information and to book tickets visit: https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/whats-on/exhibitions/the-credit-suisse-exhibition-michelangelo-sebastiano.