The 10 most beautiful Italian works of art at the National Gallery

Portrait of a woman inspired by Lucretia, Lorenzo Lotto
Portrait of a woman inspired by Lucretia, Lorenzo Lotto

Do you miss Italy and its cultural heritage? If you have not planned a trip to the ‘Belpaese‘ any time soon but we crave for some Italian art, we have prepared a trip to the best Italy has produced in art. Look no further that the National Gallery to visit it. We asked Caroline Campbell, Head of the Curatorial Department at the National Gallery, to choose the most beautiful Italian works of art in the collection. The tasked has proved difficult, she said, as there are so many Italian paintings to choose from. These are Caroline’s top ten.

1. Giovanni Bellini, Agony in the Garden, about 1465. It’s one of the first landscape paintings in Italian art. The landscape and the sky are simply wonderful.

Giovanni Bellini, active about 1459; died 1516 The Agony in the Garden about 1465 Egg on wood, 81.3 x 127 cm Bought, 1863

Giovanni Bellini, The Agony in the Garden, about 1465

2. Piero Della Francesca, The Baptism of Christ, 1450, for the monumentality of the figures and the cool pure light.

Piero della Francesca, about 1415/20 - 1492 The Baptism of Christ 1450s Egg on poplar

Piero della Francesca, about 1415/20 – 1492
The Baptism of Christ, 1450s, Egg on poplar

3. Caravaggio, The Supper at Emmaus, 1601, for the drama of the composition.

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, 1571 - 1610 The Supper at Emmaus 1601. Oil and tempera on canvas

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, 1571 – 1610
The Supper at Emmaus
1601. Oil and tempera on canvas

4. Tiepolo, An Allegory with Venus and Time, 1754-8, for the timeless quality of the sky.

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, 1696 - 1770 An Allegory with Venus and Time, about 1754-8 Oil on canvas

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, 1696 – 1770
An Allegory with Venus and Time, about 1754-8
Oil on canvas

5. Botticelli, Venus and Mars, 1485. It has something comic on it. Mars, the god of war, is fast asleep and cannot be awaken despite the satire trying to wake him up blowing a trumpet in his ear and despite having in front the more beautiful woman in the world.

Venus and Mars by Botticelli

Sandro Botticelli about 1445 – 1510, Venus and Mars, about 1485. Tempera and oil on poplar

6. Tiziano, Diana and Actaeon, 1556. There is a terrible sense of fate and tragedy in this painting. Actaeon has been transformed into a stag by Diana and is torn to death by his own hounds and he’s punished for a crime he did not meant to commit.

Titian, Diana and Actaeon

Titian, Diana and Actaeon

7. Lorenzo Lotto, Portrait of a Lady inspired by Lucrezia, 1530. It was very unusual for a lady to be portrayed and we have such a clear sense of her identity.

Lorenzo Lotto, about 1480 - 1556/7 Portrait of a Woman inspired by Lucretia, about 1530-2

Lorenzo Lotto, about 1480 – 1556/7
Portrait of a Woman inspired by Lucretia, about 1530-2

8. Duccio da Boninsegna, Triptic with Virgin and Child with Saints Dominic and Aurea, 1312, for the tenderness with with mother and child are interacting.

Duccio, active 1278; died 1319 The Virgin and Child with Saint Dominic and Saint Aurea, and Patriarchs and Prophets about 1312-15 (?)

Duccio, active 1278; died 1319
The Virgin and Child with Saint Dominic and Saint Aurea, and Patriarchs and Prophets
about 1312-15 (?)

9. Annibale Carracci, The Dead Christ Mourned, 1604. It’s an incredible, well composed and very moving picture of Christ.

Annibale Carracci, 1560 - 1609 The Dead Christ Mourned ('The Three Maries') about 1604

Annibale Carracci, 1560 – 1609
The Dead Christ Mourned (‘The Three Maries’)
about 1604

10. Guido Reni, Coronation of the Virgin, 1606.  It’s a very small picture, exquisitely painted on copper. It was painted in 17th century but it looks like if it was painted yesterday.

Guido Reni, 1575 - 1642 The Coronation of the Virgin about 1607

Guido Reni, 1575 – 1642
The Coronation of the Virgin
about 1607

 

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