This volume includes some of the greatest pictures in the National Gallery: Titian’s Vendramin Family venerating a Relic of the True Cross and The Death of Actaeon; Veronese’s Family of Darius and his four Allegories, and Tintoretto’s Origin of the Milky Way. There are also new discoveries, such as the small painting by Veronese of The Rape of Europa, long considered a copy, whose quality is revealed by recent cleaning. The great Bassano family, who worked outside Venice but often in the service of the city and its art market, is also well represented. Veronese may be the artist whose entire range is best displayed, with paintings of all sizes and types from his youth to maturity. But the influence of Titian pervades the entire period covered in this catalogue, and for that reason his works after 1540 are included here; his earlier paintings will appear in another volume.
The catalogue can also serve as an introduction to all the major types of painting produced in the city: the altarpiece, the confraternity chapel decoration, the ceiling painting, paintings for the portego (the long central hall of a palace), the portrait, and even furniture painting. Many of these pictures have passed through some of the greatest collections in Europe – most notably those of Emperor Rudolph II, in Prague, of Queen Christina of Sweden and of the Duc d’Orléans – and the stories behind their provenance represent key episodes in the history of European taste. The author’s account of how these works were acquired makes this catalogue an important contribution to the history of collecting and to the history of the National Gallery itself.
NICHOLAS PENNY is Director of the National Gallery. He was previously Senior Curator of Sculpture and Decorative Arts at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and prior to that, Keeper and Clore Curator at the National Gallery, London. His publications include Giotto to Dürer (1991); the Catalogue of European Sculpture in the Ashmolean Museum (1992); The Materials of Sculpture (1993); the National Gallery catalogue of The Sixteenth Century Italian Paintings Volume I: Bergamo, Brescia and Cremona (2004); A Closer Look: Frames (2010); and The National Gallery, London: Director’s Choice (2011).
Jonathan Keates, Sunday Times
‘A treasure-house for browsing and understanding some of the gallery’s most memorable canvases’
Theodore K. Rabb, Times Literary Supplement