The Art of Italy in the Royal Collection: The Renaissance
Treasure trove of Italian masters
This article is from 2008.
You wonder what Prince William was thinking when he switched courses at university – when your Grandma owns art like this, studying Art History must have been a doddle.
This exhibition, the first of two from the Royal Collection’s holdings of 16th and 17th century Italian art, begins with works from the Renaissance and features paintings by many well-known (and some lesser-known) names such Bellini and Titian, as well as drawings by the ‘megastars’: Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci.
The number of works is not overwhelming and the paintings are uniformly vibrant: there is no dull brown varnish to blunt our appreciation of the colours used by the Renaissance masters. A beautiful small panel by Mazzolino of a group of warriors has benefited from this thorough conservation, revealing extra figures and detail. Paintings by Andrea del Sarto, Lorenzo Lotto and Bronzino are also well worth a closer look, although not all the pieces are of such a high standard (for instance, Dossi’s awkward ‘Holy Family’).
The exhibition’s true strength is revealed by the drawings in the final room: Da Vinci’s ‘Neptune’ and Michelangelo’s ‘Fall of Phaeton’ are extraordinary. Forget following the complex regional Italian artistic developments and focus instead on the incredible range of works that emerged during this period, and landed, often in the most curious ways, in the Royal Collection.
The Queen’s Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse, 556 5100, until 26 Oct, £5 (£3–£4.50).