On 25 May 2017 a large group of Friends attended a private view of the exhibition Michelangelo & Sebastiano at The National Gallery in London. We were in good company, because the Director of the National Gallery, Gabriele Finaldi, was taking round Tristram Hunt, Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum (who lingered - of course - in front of the Hermitage loan, a painting by Sebastiano).
This exhibition – the first ever to be devoted to the hugely productive creative friendship between Michelangelo and Sebastiano del Piombo – explored the complementary talents and divergent personalities of two great artists. They became friends when Sebastiano, a young Venetian painter, arrived in Rome and met Michelangelo, then working on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. With 70 works – not just paintings (including a loan from The State Hermitage Museum (The Lamentation over the Dead Christ) but drawings, sculptures and letters – the exhibition traces their friendship over 25 years, a dramatic time for Italy, one of revolution, war and theological schism, but also of great intellectual energy and artistic innovation.