This is the seventh section to be published of the catalogue of the Queens pictures. It deals with the Italian pictures painted before about 1600, from Duccio to Christofano Allori, with the exception of the Cartoons of Mantegna and Raphael, which have already been studied in separate volumes. There are important Early Italian works in the collection, notably the Quaratesi Madonna of Gentile da Fabriano and a portrait by Giovanni Bellini, but its greatest strength is in the sixteenth century: works by Raphael and his followers Giulio Romano, Polidoro and Perino, by Andrea del Sarto, Pontormo, Bronzino, Salviati and Vasari, by Corregio and Parmigianino, and a particularly striking representation of the masters of Venice and the Venato-Titian and Palma, Lotto and Cariani, Tintoretto and Veronese, the Bassano family and Shiavone.
There are also distinguished paintings of the Cinquecento from Ferrara, Bologna, Brescia and Milan.
An introductory essay describes the impression which each phase of collecting has left upon the present shape of the collection. The residue of the spectacular acquisitions of Charles I is compared with the perhaps unexpectedly successful rebuilding of the collection at the Restoration; less familiar group-accessions - the Barberini gift, the Capel Legacy and the purchase of Consul Smith's pictures, for example - had the effect of reinforcing the concentration upon sixteenth-century works of Northern Italy.
But for the personal enthusiasm of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert for paintings of the Trecento and Quattrocento this would have been , almost without exception, a collection of pictures painted after 1500.
John Shearman, former director of the Courtauld Institute, is Professor of the History of Art and Chairman of the Department of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University.