Through the keyhole...Renaissance style





They were the iPods, ornaments and Ikea sofas of their day: the everyday gadgets and household items that lived alongside - and in some cases inspired - Renaissance Italy's finest artists.

This week, the Victoria and Albert Museum unveils an exhibition dedicated to the little-known domestic world in which Donatello, Carpaccio, Botticelli and Titian first picked up their paintbrushes. Some of their most important paintings will be displayed in a gallery adapted to recreate the affluent urban homes in which they were originally displayed. It contains rare examples of the fireplaces, fabrics and furniture coveted by the yuppies of the period.

Highlights range from a priceless Lippi oil painting - thought to be the first Italian portrait depicting an interior setting - to the oldest surviving pair of Italian spectacles. The exhibition also shows a 16th-century baby-walker, together with personal items such as metal bodices, pastry cutters and an ear-cleaner.


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