National Gallery Michelangelo and Sebastiano exhibition

Once again I had to go to central London to do a list. The early morning walk to the station was colder than I expected. It is quite difficult to predict what to wear at this time of the year. The mornings and evenings are cold and the midday warm. My flimsy shoes certainly was not meant for pounding the pavements at this time of the year and I could feel the cold creeping up. By the time I got to the station even my head felt a bit numb and I couldn’t find the slot on the ticket machine to put my card in.

I was soon on my way and got to the hospital in time. The surgeon turned up early for a change. Lakshmi’s photo with the Pope still continues to enthral and was the topic of conversation for the next half an hour.

One of the girls I anaesthetised was a vlogger. The second time I am meeting this new generation of video bloggers. For someone who is not even twenty, she has a pretty impressive number of followers.

The list finished before lunchtime and my plan was to come back home and catch up on all the pending work. However the sun was out and it was a glorious day. It seemed a pity to miss all this. The hospital is quite close to Oxford street, one of the busiest shopping streets in London and a short walk from Leicester Square and China Town. Soon I was tucking into my favourite dim sums.

I have tickets to see the ‘Michelangelo & Sebastiano’ exhibition at the National Gallery next Friday, but I decided to go and see it today instead. The exhibition takes us through the story of the collaboration between these two renaissance artists and their feud with Raphael, a talented rising star of the period.

Sebastiano was ten years younger than Michelangelo and when they first met Michelangelo was coming to the end of his work at the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo was not an easy person to get along with, but the two artists formed a friendship that was to last over two decades. They came to realise that their work complemented each other. Sebastiano was good at painting Venetian landscapes and Michelangelo was the best at sculptures and drawings. Michelangelo provided the designs and Sebastiano completed the paintings. With this partnership they were able to rival Raphael and muscle in on commissions.

The exhibition showcased some of Michelangelo’s own works, sculptures, drawings and paintings, their collaborative works, and some of Sebastiano’s own works and the letters they wrote to each other during this period.

One of the highlights of the show was the Viterbo Pieta. A painting of Mother Mary lamenting over the Dead Christ. A sculpture of the ‘Pieta’ by Michelangelo stands in St Peter’s depicting the Virgin clasping the dead body of her son. He was only 25 when he produced this masterpiece. A cast copy of this sculpture was also provided for comparison with the painting. In the painting the body is shown removed from the grieving mother and laid down at her feet, with the background of landscape which looks like wasteland.

Another collaborative work ‘The rising of Lazarus’ was the first painting acquired by the National Gallery in 1824.

My favourite one was ‘The Risen Christ’ a sculpture by Michelangelo. By the time he got to the face of the sculpture he noticed a black vein in the marble and did not complete the work. If I remember the information correctly it was later completed by an unknown artist, who finished the right arm, back and the face.

Exhibitions like this not only show you the great works done by these artists, but also gives you an insight about them as people and to think that the masterpieces they created 500 years ago still excite and entice us to want to learn more about these artists and their works.

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