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30 of 2,627 paintings
Jesus sits at the head of the table, surrounded by his disciples, holding up a piece of bread, which he blesses: this is the Last Supper. Ercole’s skill at painting detail on a small scale is clear: each disciple has a different facial expression, and the transparent glasses, the carafes and the...
In late fifteenth-century Venice, a striking style of portraiture – derived from Netherlandish portraiture – was being popularised in the city by the Sicilian artist Antonello da Messina; this is a typical example of it. The dark background, the three-quarter pose and the sharp lighting used here...
Not on display
The story of the Passion (Christ’s torture and crucifixion) unfolds across three crowded panels. On the left, Christ is led out from his trial; in the centre he has been crucified; to the right, his dead body is taken down from the Cross.The sacred events seem to be taking place near the city of...
Not on display
A young woman crouches in the bottom right-hand corner, trying to cover her nakedness with her cloak, while two bearded men leer at her and pull at her clothes. This is Susannah, an Old Testament heroine. Bathing one hot day in her husband’s garden, she was seen by two elders – senior members of...
Claude takes the subject of this painting from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The nymph Echo is in love with the beautiful youth Narcissus, who rejects her. In Claude’s painting, the goddess Nemesis punishes Narcissus by making him fall in love with his own reflection in a pool of water.The castle in the...
Not on display
This is the main panel of an altarpiece painted for a Dominican church in Fabriano, in the Marche region of Italy. The Virgin Mary sits on a marble throne in a walled garden. She looks lovingly at the Christ Child balanced on her left knee, and her long fingers curl protectively around him. They...
Not on display
As Saint Nicholas of Tolentino (1245–1305) contemplates the Christ Child, rays of golden light impress a sun with the face of a cherub upon his breast. Christ eats the cherries offered by Saint Joseph, symbolising the fruit of paradise. Angels watch and play music; God the Father, together with t...
Not on display
This large altarpiece – one of the few in the National Gallery which is almost complete – has had an eventful life. It was commissioned in 1455 from the Florentine painter Francesco Pesellino, and is his only surviving documented work. He died in 1457 and it was finished by Fra Filippo Lippi and...
Not on display
One of the most famous paintings in the National Gallery, Titian’s Bacchus and Ariadne illustrates a story told by the classical authors Ovid and Catullus. The Cretan princess Ariadne has been abandoned on the Greek island of Naxos by Theseus, whose ship sails away in the distance. Bacchus, god o...
Two horses run wild across a flat, earthy plain against a cloudy sunset. These are Xanthus and Balius, the immortal horses of the Greek hero Achilles. They were the offspring of Zephyrus, the god of the west wind, who may be personified by the winged head which is about to expel a mouthful of air...
Not on display
This is one of Zurbarán’s most austere and intensely spiritual works. Saint Francis is shown kneeling in fervent prayer, his clasped hands cradling a skull. Shadow obscures his face, giving us only a glimpse of his features. He wears the robe of the Franciscans, the religious order he founded in...
The low horizon gives a vast sky – very much how a sailor in a small boat at sea experiences the world. But the men working on the vessels seem unconcerned with the view: these are inshore working craft.In the centre is a smalschip, a transport vessel carrying a Dutch ensign. Beached on the spit...
Not on display
This composition of Christ as the Salvator Mundi (‘Saviour of the World’) adored by his mother, the Virgin Mary, was very popular in the early sixteenth century. These are workshop copies of originals painted by Quinten Massys towards the beginning of his career. His workshop then continued to pr...
Not on display
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