Its based around the altarpiece above, painted by Botticini for the burial chamber of Matteo Palmieri (1406–1475) in San Pier Maggiore.
One side of the exhibition details Matteo Palmieri’s life. He started as an apothecary in Florence who travelled well and educated himself in philosophy, poetry, wrote history books and held a prominent position in the Florentine government. He was well connected too, with ties to the famous Medici family, rulers of Florence.
The other side of the exhibition was all about the altarpiece. One of Palmieri’s poems, ‘Città di Vita’ (City of Life) was based on Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’. It was condemned for heresy because of the mixing of Saints and Angels in the tiers of heaven was apparently not done in those days. These views are reflected in the painting though which suggests that Palmieri had a large hand in the design of it. The piece (along with quite a few others) had been misattributed to Sandro Botticelli who a contemporary of Botticini’s by an art historian for over 300 years.
Additionally, there was a bit about the church, the other altarpiece and some other related prints, drawings and paintings. And a room off to one side where you could watch the video below.
“To better understand the original function and context of the altarpiece, the exhibition includes a short documentary film about San Pier Maggiore – a church largely destroyed in the 18th century – using surviving archival, archaeological, and visual material.” National Gallery
I’d watched this really interesting video before I went (which was the basis for me wanting to see the exhibition). It wasn’t a large exhibition but it was interesting. Unforuntaly I was not allowed to take photographs. I found taking so many accurate notes to be both time-consuming and dull and was very thankful the rest of the National Gallery was photograph friendly so I could just photograph the captions for my reference.
I think the video was actually the highlight for me but the altarpiece itself was very beautiful.