The Antonello da Messina exhibition now at the Scuderie del Quirinale in Rome is one of those rare occasions that takes place only once in a lifetime. In fact, an exhibition devoted to Antonello will almost certainly never happen again. Like Vermeer, whom in some respects he resembles through his quietism, he is known through very few paintings - less than 50 in all. About two-thirds of these have been gathered together for the exhibition.
Some come from provincial museums in Antonello’s native Sicily, others from major collections in Florence, Venice, Milan, London, Paris, and Madrid. Most of the works are small, and not all are in good condition. This does not diminish the impact of the show.