The National Gallery holdings of Italian paintings are both deep and wide-ranging. This new, richly illustrated catalogue deals with artists the bulk of whose work falls within the first half of the fifteenth century, around 1400–1460, predominantly in Tuscany. Yet within this relatively narrow chronological and geographical confine we find some of the most influential and innovative painters of the Italian Renaissance, including Masaccio, Fra Angelico, Pisanello and Uccello. The examples of their work represented here, the extent of the discoveries that have been made, and are still to be made, about their origins, and the scholarship brought to bear on them, emphasise the richness and the importance of this area of the Gallery’s collection.
Since the publication in 1961 of Martin Davies’s catalogue of the earlier Italian Schools, much new evidence has become available – through both scientific and archival investigations. Discoveries have been made and new theories advanced, not only about the identify of the artists but about the nature of their subject-matter and the original settings of their work. Among the new findings published here are the discover of a concealed signature on an Annunciation by the Florentine painter Zanobi Strozzi and the identification of the missing predella panel from the Trinity altarpiece, begun by Pesellino and completed by Filippo Lippi. An essay by Susanna Avery-Quash traces the growth of interest in early Italian paintings in Britain.
Every picture has been re-examined with conservators, and new information gleaned about its technique and condition. All the paintings are reproduced full-page, in colour, together with many details, comparative illustrations and reconstructions.
DILLIAN GORDON was until 2010 Curator of Italian Paintings before 1460 at the National Gallery, London. Her publications include Making and Meaning: The Wilton Diptych (1993) and The Italian Paintings before 1400 (2011), in the present series of new National Gallery Catalogues; and as co-author, Art in the Making: Italian Painting before 1400 (1989), Giotto to Dürer: Early Renaissance Painting in the National Gallery (1991), and Pisanello (2001). She was appointed OBE in 2011 for services to early Italian painting.