Devotion by Design

Devotion by Design: Italian Altarpieces Before 1500

Wednesday, 06 July 2011 - Sunday, 02 October 2011

National Gallery, London
As part of a programme of summer shows focusing on the National Gallery’s collection, Devotion by Design explores the function, the original location, and the development of altarpieces in Italy during the late Middle Ages and the early Renaissance. Devotion by Design showcases altarpieces by well-known artists such as Piero della Francesca, but includes many which are less familiar. It revisits works in the National Gallery Collection in a fresh and innovative light, drawing on the wealth of scholarship undertaken in this field in recent years.

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About the book
Museum visitors today usually see pre-16th-century Italian painted altarpieces exhibited alone, as single paintings. Yet this beautiful catalogue shows that these works were once part of decorative, integrated schemes, and the original experience for viewers of the paintings was significantly different from our own. Focusing on Italian altarpieces from the second half of the 13th century to the very end of the 15th, the book investigates the original functions and locations of altarpieces as well as the circumstances of their dislocations, dismantlings, and reconstructions. Regional variations are also analyzed, and the author examines altarpieces' formal and typological development, taking into account the wealth of related scholarship undertaken in the past thirty years.