Michelangelo & Sebastiano: In focus

Learn about the paintings and people in the story of the remarkable collaborative relationship between Michelangelo and Sebastiano

Michelangelo and Sebastiano

The story of the friendship between the world-famous Florentine artist Michelangelo Buonarroti and the lesser-known Venetian painter Sebastiano Luciani, called Sebastiano del Piombo is both epic and personal.

Giorgio Vasari (1511 - 1574), ‘Engraved portrait of Michelangelo, from Vasari's Lives of the Artists’, 1568 edition © The National Gallery, London

Cristoforo Coriolano (?), ‘Portrait of Michelangelo Buonarroti’, from Vasari's ‘Lives of the Artists’ 1568 edition, woodcut © The National Gallery, London

The two came from widely different artistic traditions, and Michelangelo’s fierce independence made him an unlikely candidate for collaboration. But after meeting in Rome in 1511, at a time now recognised as a high point of the Renaissance, they came together to create works of striking force and originality.

Giorgio Vasari (1511 - 1574), ‘Engraved portrait of Sebastiano del Piombo, from Vasari's Lives of the Artists’, 1568 edition © The National Gallery, London

Cristoforo Coriolano (?), ‘Portrait of Sebastiano del Piombo’, from Vasari's ‘Lives of the Artists’ 1568 edition, woodcut © The National Gallery, London

Spanning about twenty-five years, their tale is one of camaraderie, mutual influence, and eventually of rupture and acrimony. It takes place against a backdrop of bitter rivalries, political turbulence, religious schism, and war.

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