Published  26/07/2001

National Gallery completes Masaccio ‘jigsaw’

Neil McGregor, Director, has achieved a remarkable re-composition: Masaccio’s ‘Virgin and Child’ of 1426 (this year is the 600th anniversary of the artist’s birth) which comprises a central panel (‘Virgin and Child’) owned by the Gallery, along with the ‘Adoration of the Magi’ (Gemaldegalerie, Berlin) including six panels of saints, plus the key panel of the ‘Crucifixion’ (Capodimonte Museum, Naples). Also included is the St Andrew panel from the Getty Museum, Los Angeles, and finally — the only panel of the original work still located in Pisa, the original city — the panel of St Paul. Notwithstanding this typically ingenious McGregor exhibition, two-thirds to one-half of the original Masaccio multiple panel construction is still lost. But as all jigsaw obsessives will admit, once one has completed one-third of the puzzle, especially the centre, the rest can be less essential to fulfilment. The exhibition goes up this autumn.

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