|Sebastiano del Piombo, Pietà, c. 1512-16. |
Museo Civico Viterbo © Comune di Viterbo
A key loan to the exhibition is the 'Lamentation over the Dead Christ', also known as the Viterbo 'Pietà' (about 1512–16) after the central Italian town where it resides. This painting is Michelangelo and Sebastiano’s first collaboration and eloquently represents their combined vision. Rarely seen outside of Italy, it is also the first large-scale nocturnal landscape in history, iconographically original for its separation of Christ from his mother’s lap.
In its time, the Viterbo 'Pietà' was received with widespread praise, and on its merits Sebastiano garnered his next two major commissions, both of which were completed with Michelangelo’s input – the decoration of the Borgherini Chapel in S. Pietro in Montorio, Rome (1516–24) and The Raising of Lazarus (1517–19). The latter was painted in competition with Raphael’s great 'Transfiguration' (now Vatican Museums) for the Cathedral of Narbonne, France, from which it was removed in the 18th century. 'The Raising of Lazarus' eventually became part of the foundational group of paintings forming the National Gallery Collection in 1824, where it was given the very first inventory number, NG1.
Recent scientific research conducted at the National Gallery has provided new insights into the two artists’ respective work on 'The Raising of Lazarus'. Infrared reflectography has revealed Sebastiano’s contribution to be more substantial and independent of Michelangelo’s influence than previously assumed. It is now understood that Michelangelo only intervened at a relatively advanced stage in the painting’s development, revising in drawings the figure of the revived Lazarus, which Sebastiano had already painted.
Among other exhibition highlights is 'The Risen Christ' by Michelangelo, a larger-than-life-size marble statue carved by Michelangelo in 1514–15, generously lent by the Church of S. Vincenzo Martire, Bassano Romano (Italy). 'The Risen Christ' will be shown with a 19th-century plaster cast after Michelangelo’s second version of the same subject (1528–21), which resides in – and never leaves – the S. Maria sopra Minerva, Rome. Never attempted before, this juxtaposition presents visitors with the first ever opportunity to see these statues side by side.
Sebastiano’s 'Visitation' from the Louvre, Paris, and the 'Lamentation over the Dead Christ' from the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, will also leave their collections for the first time to travel to Trafalgar Square. The latter will be united with Sebastiano’s 'Christ’s Descent into Limbo' (1516) from the Museo del Prado, Madrid, and Francisco Ribalta’s 17th-century copy of Sebastiano’s lost 'Christ Appearing to the Apostles'. The three paintings will be presented in their original triptych format for the first time since they were separated in 1646.
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.
Location: North Galleries
Press view: 14 March 2017 (10.30am – 1.30pm)
Open to public: 15 March 2017
Daily 10am–6pm (last admission 5pm)
Fridays 10am–9pm (last admission 8.15pm)
For advance tickets to Michelangelo & Sebastiano please book online or call 0800 912 6958 (booking fee). You can also book tickets by post and in person from the Gallery. Overseas customers can contact us by dialling +44 020 7126 5573.
Full price: £18
Seniors/Concessions/Disabled visitors (carers FREE): £14
Jobseekers/Students/Art Pass holders/12–18s: £7
Under-12s (ticket required): FREE
MEMBERS GO FREE