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16 May 2018

In Lapide Depictum: Italian painting on stone 1530-1555

Museo del Prado

Reviewed by Vera Wilde

The piece at the entrance looks contemporary. But the glowing slab of selenite gypsum, bearing the chiseled inscription from which this show takes its title, dates from the first century. Likewise the featured Renaissance artists hark back to their classical roots and also look forward, representing the unseen and eternal with materials meant to last.

Impeccably restored works reward intense study. Titian's Ecce Homo (1547, oil on slate) and Mater Dolorosa (1555, oil on white marble) glow with an eerily human softness that photographers struggle to emulate. Even in more secular scenes, such as Daniele da Volterra's Portrait of a Young Man (c. 1553), there is at once a subdued sadness and a light in the skin that looks alive.

The materials lasted the ages, but the biblical messages did not. Consequently the Roman works like Theseus and the Centaur (attributed to Alexandros Athenaios, c. 20 BCE - CE 37, painting on white marble) don't just add interest. They steal the show.

Exhibition In Lapide Depictum: Italian painting on stone 1530-1555 link
Start date 17 Apr 2018
End date 05 Aug 2018
Presenter Museo del Prado link
Venue Calle Ruiz de Alarcón 23, Madrid, ESP map
Image Titian, Ecce Homo, 1547, oil on slate, courtesy of the Museo del Prado

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