The collection of Early Renaissance painting in the National Gallery in London is one of the finest and most comprehensive in the world. This book provides a survey of European painting between 1260 and 1510, in both northern and southern Europe, based largely on the National Gallery collection, and is at the same time a guide to the paintings in the Gallery. It is published to coincide with the opening of the Sainsbury Wing in which the Early Renaissance collection will be exhibited. The authors explain the background of relious belief and devotional practice for which many of the paintings were created, and the secular requirements and ambitions which influenced them. They discuss the social context in which art was created and then displayed in the street, the palace or the church; and consider the role of the patron and the dealer. They describe the artist's workshop, consider the role of apprentices and assistance, discuss the influence of guilds and courts and explore the reasons for the introduction of new subjects and techniques and also the survival of traditions. The book goes on to supply an account of the materials and techniques of the early Renaissance artist.
The preparation of panels, the application of gold leaf, the use of tempera and oil paint are all explained on the basis of research. After this introduction, some 70 of the finest and best known paintings in the gallery are examined in detail, including masterpieces by Duccio, Van Eyck, Mantegna, Piero della Francesca, Bouts, Bellini, Memling, Raphael and Leonardo.