Transcendent art

Piero della Francesca's masterpiece in Perugia

I know it makes us seem philistines, but my family spent an absolute minimum of time in museums during our Italian visit. My wife and I, however, sneaked away from the family when we visited Perugia. After walking around part of the historic center we went into the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria, housed in the Palazzo dei Priori. It would not be an exaggeration to say that we were two of perhaps 20 visitors to this large, wonderful collection on a Saturday morning in late June. There’s no better way to see art than in comparative isolation, particularly in such a stunning setting.

But the reason to get on the next flight to Italy, and find your way to Perugia as soon as you can, is Piero della Francesca’s Polyptych of St Anthony. I almost feel guilty about including the pallid photo above. I can’t remember a work of art that gave me an electric charge to see in person. I get chills even thinking about it now.

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