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Pompeo Batoni - National Gallery (preview)

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

AN EXHIBITION marking the tercentenary of Pompeo Batoni’s birth, Pompeo Batoni (1708 – 1787), will be on display in the Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery from February 20 to May 18, 2008.

In his day, Batoni was the most celebrated painter in Rome. The American painter Benjamin West said, “When I went to Rome, the Italian artists of that day thought of nothing, looked at nothing, but the work of Pompeo Batoni.”

For nearly half a century, Batoni recorded international travellers’ visits to Italy on the Grand Tour in portraits that remain among the most memorable artistic accomplishments of the period. Equally gifted as a history painter, his religious and mythological works were eagerly acquired by the greatest patrons and collectors in Britain and mainland Europe.

This exhibition will be the first comprehensive presentation of Batoni’s paintings in forty years. It will provide a vivid appreciation of the artistic achievement of ‘Italy’s Last Old Master,’ through the finest examples available in the public and private collections of Europe and America.

And Batoni’s status as Rome’s most sought-after painter for both portraits and history paintings will be demonstrated by works never previously publicly exhibited, as well as newly discovered and recently restored works.

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