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Gallery insight

Delve into the collection with staff across the Gallery. Get the view from curators, conservators, and the Director himself.

More from Gallery insight (19 videos)

  • Looking Back on Leonardo | Exhibitions | The National Gallery, London

    Experience the excitement of what was dubbed 'one of the exhibitions of the century' in this brand new retrospective of the 2011 show 'Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan'. Take a look back at this unprecedented exhibition -- the first of its kind anywhere in the world -- which brought together sensational international loans never before seen in the UK. Hear exhibition curator Luke Syson reflecting on the significance of the historical show, as Larry Keith, Head of Conservation, Ashok Roy, Director of Science, and Nicholas Penny, Director of the National Gallery describe what they learnt from this once-in-a-lifetime exhibition. 'Looking Back on Leonardo' was made by Oxford Film and Television and directed by Peter Sweasey. Find out more about the exhibition 'Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan' on the National Gallery website: http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/whats-on/exhibitions/leonardo-da-vinci-painter-at-the-court-of-milan Watch this film and more on our new National Gallery Channel: http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/channel/

    Experience the excitement of what was dubbed 'one of the exhibitions of the century' in this brand new retrospective of the 2011 show 'Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan'. Take a look back at this unprecedented exhibition -- the first of its kind anywhere in the world -- which brought together sensational international loans never before seen in the UK. Hear exhibition curator Luke Syson reflecting on the significance of the historical show, as Larry Keith, Head of Conservation, Ashok Roy, Director of Science, and Nicholas Penny, Director of the National Gallery describe what they learnt from this once-in-a-lifetime exhibition. 'Looking Back on Leonardo' was made by Oxford Film and Television and directed by Peter Sweasey. Find out more about the exhibition 'Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan' on the National Gallery website: http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/whats-on/exhibitions/leonardo-da-vinci-painter-at-the-court-of-milan Watch this film and more on our new National Gallery Channel: http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/channel/

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    Looking Back on Leonardo thumbnail07:33

    Looking Back on Leonardo | Exhibitions | The National Gallery, London

    Movie
  • James Heard: He was born in Cadore, in the mountains above Venice, and his name is Titian. In many ways, he is the first great modern painter, because he was using oil paint on canvas. To painting, he brought new vibrancy. Vibrancy of colour, in particular, which we can see in this painting of 'Bacchus and Ariadne', painted between 1520 and 1523.

    James Heard (in the studio): The subject is taken from the Latin poetry of Ovid and Catullus. They both give slightly differing versions of Prince Theseus, slaying the Minotaur, and then, abandoning his lover, the Cretan princess, Ariadne. Titian chooses the moment when Theseus sails away, leaving Ariadne to very different fate, with the handsome young Bacchus, just returning from a tour of India. Bacchus, with his crown of ivy, and train of inebriated companions, makes an extraordinary impact, leaping from his chariot, to declare his love for Ariadne.

    [Classical music playing in background]

    His companions are neither polite, nor civilised, having just torn apart the limbs of a young calf, in their drunken frenzy.

    [Classical music playing]

    Bacchus though, makes the romantic gesture, of taking Ariadne's crown, and throwing it into the sky, where it becomes a constellation of stars.

    [Pause]

    Titian painted this for a special gallery, in the castle at Ferrara. The owner, Duke Alfonso d'Este, became impatient at the length of time Titian took to complete his masterpiece. What makes it so impressive, is the relationships between the individual characters, the repeated rhythms and, above all, the colour. Titian has used highly saturated hues, in the shadows, to create a powerful combination of colours, such as the juxtaposition of Bacchus' red lake cloak, against the lapis lazuli of the sky.

    Paintings decoded

    Discover the background of Titian's 'Bacchus and Ariadne'

    About the video:

     

    Feel the drama as love-struck Bacchus approaches the abandoned Ariadne. Revel in Titian's contrasting colours and find out about his frustrated patron, Alfonso d'Este. With James Heard, National Gallery Education.

     

    From The National Gallery Visitor's Guide DVD

     

    Find out more about Titian, Bacchus and Ariadne, 1520-3

     

    Explore the life and work of Titian through film, in-depth research and more

    About the video:

     

    Feel the drama as love-struck Bacchus approaches the abandoned Ariadne. Revel in Titian's contrasting colours and find out about his frustrated patron, Alfonso d'Este. With James Heard, National Gallery Education.

     

    From The National Gallery Visitor's Guide DVD

     

    Find out more about Titian, Bacchus and Ariadne, 1520-3

     

    Explore the life and work of Titian through film, in-depth research and more

    Read More
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    Paintings decoded

    Discover the background of Titian's 'Bacchus and Ariadne'

    Movie
  • Titian: 'Diana and Actaeon' | Carol Plazzotta - Curator | The National Gallery, London

    Learn more about this painting with National Gallery curator, Carol Plazzotta. Read about the painting, learn the key facts and zoom in to discover more on the National Gallery website: http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/titian-diana-and-actaeon

    Learn more about this painting with National Gallery curator, Carol Plazzotta. Read about the painting, learn the key facts and zoom in to discover more on the National Gallery website: http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/titian-diana-and-actaeon

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    Titian: 'Diana and Actaeon' thumbnail05:01

    Titian: 'Diana and Actaeon' | Carol Plazzotta - Curator | The National Gallery, London

    Movie
  • Exhibition Insight | Vermeer: Painter of Music

    What can we learn from the depictions of music in Vermeer's paintings? Watch 'Vermeer and Music: the Art of Love and Leisure curator Betsy Wieseman and members of the Academy of Ancient Music discuss the symbolism present in some of Vermeer's best-known works, with musical accompaniment from members of the Academy. Vermeer was not a prolific artist with only 36 paintings agreed to have been produced during his lifetime. Although it is unknown whether Vermeer himself was a musician in any way, three of his paintings in particular; 'Woman Standing at a Virginal', 'Woman Seated at a Virginal' and 'The Guitar Player', see him consciously addressing variations around the same theme; in the same way that a musician might. Join Betsy Wieseman as she examines the relationship between Vermeer's paintings of women with musical instruments from 1670 -- 1672 and the music of the period in this film produced to accompany the exhibition at the National Gallery which runs from 26 June -- 8 September 2013. Learn more about the exhibition 'Vermeer and Music: The Art of Love and Leisure on the National Gallery website: http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/whats-on/exhibitions/vermeer-and-music Watch this film and more on our channel: http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/channel/

    What can we learn from the depictions of music in Vermeer's paintings? Watch 'Vermeer and Music: the Art of Love and Leisure curator Betsy Wieseman and members of the Academy of Ancient Music discuss the symbolism present in some of Vermeer's best-known works, with musical accompaniment from members of the Academy. Vermeer was not a prolific artist with only 36 paintings agreed to have been produced during his lifetime. Although it is unknown whether Vermeer himself was a musician in any way, three of his paintings in particular; 'Woman Standing at a Virginal', 'Woman Seated at a Virginal' and 'The Guitar Player', see him consciously addressing variations around the same theme; in the same way that a musician might. Join Betsy Wieseman as she examines the relationship between Vermeer's paintings of women with musical instruments from 1670 -- 1672 and the music of the period in this film produced to accompany the exhibition at the National Gallery which runs from 26 June -- 8 September 2013. Learn more about the exhibition 'Vermeer and Music: The Art of Love and Leisure on the National Gallery website: http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/whats-on/exhibitions/vermeer-and-music Watch this film and more on our channel: http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/channel/

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    Exhibition Insight thumbnail05:11

    Exhibition Insight | Vermeer: Painter of Music

    Movie
  • Antonio Mazzotta: At this stage we’re talking about Titian being 22–23 years old. This is the Magdalen meeting Christ after the Resurrection. What is unique is the very ambitious attempt to fuse human figures and landscape, and to create a landscape that looks natural and real. For example, the line of the back of the Magdalen is almost continued in this wonderfully shaped tree, and the line of the body of Christ is continued on the hill. So we have a sort of large X – the arms of this X are natural elements, and the legs of this X are human elements.

    But also he’s able to infuse his taste for the life that exists in things. All the early descriptions until the late 18th century emphasise the fact that one could almost step into Titian’s landscapes. They felt real like never before. We can feel that the sun is rising, even though we cannot see it, through the first ray of sunlight that is catching the building on the top of the hill. It’s a dynamic nature that goes far beyond what we see, for example, the breeze that one can feel in the foreground, the grass that is almost moving, and also the white drapery of the Magdalen.

    The extraordinary thing about Titian is that even if he had died at the age of 24 he would have been a highly influential artist for the following generations. The fact is that he went on painting for about 65 more years after this work. So it was an incredibly long career – and every stage of his career was influential for a different artist.

    Early Titian and Landscapes

    Antonio Mazzotta

    About the video:


    Join curator Antonio Mazzotta as he introduces Titian's influential early-career landscape painting 'Noli me Tangere'.

     

    More about the exhibition Titian's First Masterpiece: The Flight into Egypt, 4 April – 19 August 2012.

     

    Explore the life and work of Titian through film, in-depth research and more

    About the video:


    Join curator Antonio Mazzotta as he introduces Titian's influential early-career landscape painting 'Noli me Tangere'.

     

    More about the exhibition Titian's First Masterpiece: The Flight into Egypt, 4 April – 19 August 2012.

     

    Explore the life and work of Titian through film, in-depth research and more

    Read More
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    Early Titian and Landscapes

    Antonio Mazzotta

    Movie
  • Antonio Mazzotta: Titian depicted this striking portrait when he was about 20, and the young Titian was able to formulate a completely new idea of portraiture. The pose is not static, it’s highly dynamic, so the sitter is turning. As soon as you turn, your gaze is more immediate.

    He wanted to give a sense that the eyes just cross yours, and that the position is going to change very soon. So it’s a moment in time, which gives a sense of immediacy and which is a technique still employed today by fashion photographers. It was really something so new and so revolutionary in this portrait. This particular pose, which is called ‘di spalla’ – looking over the shoulder – became a standard type of portrait for centuries.

    We should think about Van Dyck’s portraits and remember that Van Dyck owned this portrait. We should also think about Rembrandt’s portraits, such as the National Gallery 'Self-Portrait', executed in 1640. To be represented without any doubt, without any fear, was probably what was liked about Titian’s portraits, as well as the sense of physical presence, of reality.

    This portrait was probably executed in around 1511, when Titian was about 22 years old. What is really new about this portrait is that the parapet is starting to drop, so we see more of the figure. This was incredibly new. She’s really dominating. She’s this incredible iconic female figure that can be compared to the great mothers of the history of art, from Mesopotamia to the Roman matrons. Really, she’s an allegory of woman.

    There are several elements that make this picture uniquely Titian, starting from how it is painted. The handling of paint, the rendering of transparencies – like this wonderful veil – and the setting of the light, is also so clever. The light is coming from the upper left and washes this very pale skin with reddish cheeks. Also, this gives a presence of a pulsating animal. In a way this is a final point of his youth, but also a starting point for his mature style.

    Titian’s Early Portraits

    Antonio Mazzotta

    About the video:


    Curator Antonio Mazzotta explains how a young Titian formulated a completely new approach to portraiture.

     

    Featuring Portrait of Gerolamo (?) Barbarigo, about 1509 and Portrait of a Lady ('La Schiavona'), about 1510-12.

     

    More about the exhibition Titian's First Masterpiece: The Flight into Egypt, 4 April – 19 August 2012.

    About the video:


    Curator Antonio Mazzotta explains how a young Titian formulated a completely new approach to portraiture.

     

    Featuring Portrait of Gerolamo (?) Barbarigo, about 1509 and Portrait of a Lady ('La Schiavona'), about 1510-12.

     

    More about the exhibition Titian's First Masterpiece: The Flight into Egypt, 4 April – 19 August 2012.

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    Titian’s Early Portraits

    Antonio Mazzotta

    Movie
  • Carol Plazzotta: I think of Ovid as one of the most painterly of all poets. Ovid always loves to set the scene. Even if you’d never seen Titian’s paintings, I think in reading the Ovid you immediately have an idea of place. He is so visual, and he makes you think visually with his descriptiveness and the adjectives he uses in the idea of touch, and the coolness, for example, the coolness of the grotto and the nakedness of the flesh, it’s all so evocative.

    Titian is almost the reverse of that. He is the most poetic of painters and so in many, many ways it is an ideal meeting of minds between these two very gifted men. Ovid has a way of making poetry enjoyable, and I think Titian was a master of that as well.
    He certainly knew how to spin an extraordinary tale in a painting and he did that through the gaze, through touch. For example, the nymph’s foot in the icy stream, he makes us feel its cool freshness, and so on. He employs everything in his armoury, if you like. Many of those tools or weapons, shall we say, are borrowed from poetry.

    So for example, I think there’s a lot about rhyme, rhythm, contrast, antithesis and surprise, all the tactics that Ovid employed. Titian kind of recreates them in his own special style, which is particularly humane.

    Lavinia Greenlaw: I think if people call Titian’s work poetic, they’re talking about poetic in the right way, which is that he uses enormous precision and depth to bring about something very, very human, rather than to create something romantic or epic. And I think Titian’s ability to draw out essential human qualities in every figure he depicted is what moved me most, this character moved me most, Callisto, because of this incredible focus on her belly. He doesn’t objectify her belly, he actually invests everything in it; he invests the acts of the Gods in it. The whole story is there, in this very, very human, swelling body.

    Carol Plazzotta: These pictures are completely unprecedented in terms of their scope, the cast of characters and the psychological interplay between them, and Titian was self-conscious about this. He was the first one to call these paintings ‘poesie’, poems. And he realised he had achieved something very special.

    Poetry on canvas

    Carol Plazzotta and Lavinia Greenlaw

    About the video:


    Curator Carol Plazzotta and poet Lavinia Greenlaw talk about Titian, the poetic painter and Ovid, the painterly poet.


    Titian’s Diana and Actaeon, Diana and Callisto and The Death of Actaeon are the central paintings in the spectacular multi-arts project ‘Metamorphosis: Titian 2012’, on display until 23 September 2012.


    Find out more about Metamorphosis: Titian 2012

    About the video:


    Curator Carol Plazzotta and poet Lavinia Greenlaw talk about Titian, the poetic painter and Ovid, the painterly poet.


    Titian’s Diana and Actaeon, Diana and Callisto and The Death of Actaeon are the central paintings in the spectacular multi-arts project ‘Metamorphosis: Titian 2012’, on display until 23 September 2012.


    Find out more about Metamorphosis: Titian 2012

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    Poetry on canvas

    Carol Plazzotta and Lavinia Greenlaw

    Movie
  • Colin Wiggins: The Virgin and Child appear again here, on an easel, in another 16th century painting from the studio of the Flemish painter, Quentin Massys.

    Saint Luke, according to legend, painted the portrait of the Virgin Mary, which explains why he was the patron saint of so many of the painters’ guilds. This painting was probably part of an altarpiece, and would have originally been attached to a painting of the Virgin herself, which is now, unfortunately, lost. The Saint is shown sitting at an easel, holding a palette, maulstick and brushes, very much like modern ones, looking very intensely towards where the Virgin would have been sitting.

    It provides us with a fascinating glimpse into a 16th century artist’s workshop, as the painter of this picture has imagined Saint Luke as working in an environment exactly similar to his own except, of course for the ox, which is Saint Luke’s personal emblem.

    Quick insight

    Colin Wiggins explores 'Saint Luke Painting the Virgin and Child'

    About the video:

     

    The patron saint of artists: find out how this painting of Saint Luke reveals the artistic practices of the 16th century – with Colin Wiggins, National Gallery Education.

     

    From the National Gallery DVD, 'Themes and Variations: Saints'

     

    Find out more about Follower of Quinten Massys, Saint Luke painting the Virgin and Child, about 1520?

    About the video:

     

    The patron saint of artists: find out how this painting of Saint Luke reveals the artistic practices of the 16th century – with Colin Wiggins, National Gallery Education.

     

    From the National Gallery DVD, 'Themes and Variations: Saints'

     

    Find out more about Follower of Quinten Massys, Saint Luke painting the Virgin and Child, about 1520?

    Read More
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    Quick insight

    Colin Wiggins explores 'Saint Luke Painting the Virgin and Child'

    Movie
  • Leonardo da Vinci - The Man behind the Myth?

    The National Gallery's Luke Syson, curator of the groundbreaking 2011 exhibition 'Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan', spent years preparing for the show. In this extract from the National Gallery podcast he tells Leah Kharibian whether this brought him any closer to understanding the elusive artist - who is believed to have done all he could to conceal himself from the public. To learn more about the man behind the myth, visit http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/artists/leonardo-da-vinci

    The National Gallery's Luke Syson, curator of the groundbreaking 2011 exhibition 'Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan', spent years preparing for the show. In this extract from the National Gallery podcast he tells Leah Kharibian whether this brought him any closer to understanding the elusive artist - who is believed to have done all he could to conceal himself from the public. To learn more about the man behind the myth, visit http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/artists/leonardo-da-vinci

    Read More
     thumbnail05:15

    Leonardo da Vinci - The Man behind the Myth?

    Movie
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