Titian’s Holy Conversation on view in Milan

Milan city hall’s Christmas gift is on display until 14 January.

For the tenth consecutive year, Milan city hall will host an exceptional masterpiece as a Christmas present for residents and visitors – this year the Holy Conversation altarpiece by Titian (Tiziano Vecelli).

Arguably the most important Italian painter of the 16th century, Titian created the splendid retable in 1520 for the church of St Francis in Ancona. It was commissioned by a wealthy merchant, Alvise Gozzi, and is thus often known as the Pala Gozzi. When the church was deconsecrated in 1863, the large work was transferred to the Ancona civic gallery, which has loaned it to Milan for this viewing.

The painting shows the Virgin and Christ-child in the heavens above a colourful sunset. They are observed by St Francis of Assisi (recognisable by his stigmata) and St Blaise, patron of Dubrovnik, where Gozzi lived. Gozzi himself is seen kneeling, with Blaise’s hand on his shoulder.

This relatively new tradition of loaning a work of art for the Christmas period has met with much approval in Milan, attracting over a million and a half visitors over the past 10 years.

Entrance to the Sala Alessi, where the retable is exhibited, is free; reservation is required only for school groups. Opening times are from 09.30 to 19.30 every day, extended to 22.30 on Thursdays (last admission 30 minutes earlier). The exhibit will close earlier on 7 December (12.00) and 24 and 31 December (18.00). On bank holidays – 8, 25 and 26 December and 1 and 6 January – the doors will close at 20.00.