I have always found Sebastiano del Piombo a hard artist to grasp. Trained under Giorgione, he is thought to have worked on the frescoes of the façade of the Fondaco dei Tedeschi on the Grand Canal, before leaving Venice to study and work in Rome. In Rome, he came under the influence of Michelangelo, the greatest artist of the day and made friends with him, absorbing the monumentalism of his style, using him for advice on compositions, writing him very formal and beautifully written letters (‘Dearest friend, dearer to me than a father’), and making him godfather. The result is a somewhat hybrid style: monumental in his figures, but still with Venetian landscapes in the background. All of this is made clear in the National Gallery’s beautifully lucid and intellectually coherent exhibition on the lives, friendship and influence of the two artists.