See Pesellino’s work at the National Gallery, London

Pesellino renaissance art

The art world is abuzz with anticipation as the National Gallery prepares to host the first-ever career-spanning exhibition dedicated to Renaissance painter Francesco Pesellino, set to open in December 2023. Active in Florence during the mid-15th century, Pesellino’s early demise at just 35 years of age and the subsequent misattribution of his surviving works have resulted in him being somewhat of an unsung hero of the Renaissance period.

Born Francesco di Stefano in 1422, Pesellino was raised by his grandfather Pesello, a proficient painter in his own right, who likely sparked the young artist’s passion for the craft. Despite Pesellino’s untimely death, his legacy in the art world is undeniable, with chroniclers and historians noting his exceptional talent, especially in painting ‘cose picole’ or small things, and his propensity for collaboration. His commissions from the ruling Medici family of Florence solidified his standing within the artistic community.

The National Gallery is in a unique position to present Pesellino’s work to a wider audience, with two of his undisputed masterpieces forming part of their collection. The Story of David cassone panels and the Pistoia Santa Trinità Altarpiece provide a showcase of the breadth and depth of Pesellino’s talents, from complex narratives and ceremonial splendour to meticulous detail and a keen observation of animals. Recent conservation efforts have further highlighted the intricacies of Pesellino’s work, allowing viewers to appreciate these incredible art pieces as they were intended.

Dr Laura Llewellyn, Curator of Italian Paintings before 1500, opines, “Works by Pesellino are rare indeed, but at the National Gallery we are lucky enough to have two of his undisputed masterpieces in the collection. The recent conservation treatment of the Stories of David panels has provided an opportunity to bring this remarkable though little-known painter into the spotlight and to celebrate his achievements with the first-ever exhibition dedicated to his short career.”

For those keen to delve deeper into Pesellino’s work, the exhibition is accompanied by the first fully illustrated catalogue dedicated to the artist to be published in English. This is also the first book-length publication on the artist in over 120 years. This exhibition promises to shed light on Pesellino’s significant contributions to the art world and finally give the Renaissance painter the recognition he so richly deserves.