Simone Martini and Stephen Bayley

19 September 2006 by Billy

'Christ Discovered in the Temple', Simone Martini

Sunday’s Observer included a feature on ‘The best-kept arts secrets in Britain‘.

DJ Rob Da Bank nominated ‘Another Place‘ (‘amazing to look at and you don’t pay to get in’), whilst ‘the second most intelligent man in Britain‘, Stephen Bayley, chose the Walker Art Gallery’s ‘Christ Discovered in the Temple‘ by Simone Martini.

‘Not exactly a secret, but certainly a surprise, is Simone Martini’s Christ Discovered in the Temple in Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery. I knew this exquisite little picture as a child, long before I ever visited Siena. Martini was one of that magnificent city’s greatest painters, working at the fascinating moment when Gothic simplicity became Renaissance sophistication. There’s the effulgence of tooled gold, the lapis, the vermilion, but there’s also subtle psychology: a superb object and a brilliant image.

Marvellous how this gorgeous southern picture found its way, through proud merchants and shippers, to the gloom of 19th-century Merseyside. It hangs now in Lancashire as a strange and haunting refugee from faraway Tuscany, a sudden jolt of Renaissance beauty enjoyed to the distant noise of buses.’

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