OIL PAINTING: The Death of the Virgin, c.1460
In a room framed by sombre pilasters, but looking out on to a view of the lake of Mantua, the Apostles gather round the dying Virgin in this painting of Mantegna. The skilfully constructed perspective is perfectly co-ordinated with the precisely drawn and coloured figures. The overall effect is severe, but its dignity is also vivid and moving. This is justly regarded as a masterpiece of the early Renaissance, with its detailed naturalism, radiant clarity and unshaken conviction.