The painting was in an unflattering frame and had a gilded background, not typical of Botticelli's work. It is thought now to have been employed by the artist to please his patron. The faces of the angels were the key to its identity as they corresponded to those in another Botticelli in the National Gallery. The rather glum portrayal of St Francis is in keeping with Botticelli's style of painting. So to is the manner in which the angels are piled vertically on either side of the central figure.
It was the quality of the painting that clinched the identification process; it was agreed by experts that it was simply too good to be a 'follower of Botticelli'. The St Francis painting was painted 10 years before Botticelli's most famous work, 'The Birth of Venus', at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
This is a most exciting find for the National Gallery. Botticelli (1445-1510) was a most individual Renaissance artist, although he was not fully appreciated until after his death. This particular painting was purchased by the first Director of the National Gallery, Sir Charles Lock Eastlake, in 1858. Its reattribution is a great credit to the level of scholarly expertise in the conservation and curatorial departments of the National.
Francis Bacon: Portraits and Heads
Francis Bacon: Portraits and Heads – The loss of faith in humanity in the late 1940s was such that the human image in art became increasingly difficult to portray. The existential despair expressed by Jean-Paul Sartre in Nausea (1938), found a visual counterpart in the images of despair and alienation of Francis Bacon, the expressionism of Oskar Kokoschka and the apocalyptic visions of Arthur Boyd. For the most part, abstraction in the visual arts dominated because, after the horrors of Auschwitz, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, artists found images of humanity impossible to create.
Mediators and Messengers: Contemporary Art in the Landscape
The entire agenda for painting about landscape has shifted in the 21st century. Concepts and readings of the land have a weighty and protracted precedence but in the 1970s, far-reaching revisions were explored by artists. These have generated a powerful volume of new work by painters, and installation and land artists.
Paul Sandby: Picturing Britain. National Gallery of Scotland, 2009
Paul Sandby (1731–1809) occupies a prominent position in British art of the 18th century in the practice of Landscape Art. This is nonetheless the first comprehensive exhibition of his work to cover the full range of the artist’s work over the actual length of his career.
Bill Viola: The Passions
Video artist Bill Viola's work reinforces the notion that a work of art will only yield its deepest meaning after long contemplation.
Bill Viola, master of video
Bill Viola is included in the National Gallery's exhibition 'Encounters', which was sponsored by Morgan Stanley Dean Witter; 24 artists were invited to 'respond' to paintings in the permanent collection. Viola has chosen 'Christ Crucified', by Hieronymus Bosch