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30 of 2,646 paintings
This monumental painting shows a large crowd awaiting the results of a lottery draw, which is taking place on the balcony of the Palazzo di Montecitorio in Rome. A man has released the winning ticket into the air – you can just make out a small piece of paper fluttering towards the excited group...
The Angel Gabriel announces to the Virgin Mary that she will bear the son of God (Luke 1: 26-8). His words, ‘Hail Mary full of Grace, the Lord be with you’, appear in abbreviated form in Latin on the scroll. The low vanishing points of this scene and its companion The Virgin Mary, also in the Nat...
Not on display
An officer on a white horse is accompanied by three mounted soldiers to the left of this scene. A group of men sit nearby, awaiting orders; most carry muskets and swords. One of them holds a furled flag, suggesting that the battle has not yet begun. A reclining figure puffs on a long pipe and gaz...
Not on display
This portrait has long been known as ‘L’Avvocato‘, meaning the lawyer or counsel in Italian. The sitter’s air of well-paid theatricality and his supercilious regard, as though he is summing up evidence, may have suggested this title. It might also derive from a misreading of the folded letter in...
This highly finished oil sketch relates to an altarpiece that Giovanni Battista Tiepolo painted for the chapel at the palace of Nymphenburg, outside Munich, in around 1735 (now in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich). Saint Clement kneels in the foreground, a vision of the Trinity above him. God the Fath...
Not on display
This semicircular painting forms the upper part of the altarpiece painted for the Buonvisi family chapel in the church of S. Frediano in Lucca.The Virgin Mary grieves over the body of her son Christ, laid across her lap, her eyelids red and puffy from weeping. An angel holds Christ’s head; anothe...
This large, gilded polyptych (multi-panelled altarpiece) is one of the few almost complete early Renaissance altarpieces in the National Gallery’s collection. It was made for the church of San Giovanni Evangelista, in Pratovecchio, Tuscany, probably in the 1420s.Altarpieces on the high altar had...
Not on display
Cupid, the god of erotic love, is complaining to his mother, Venus, the goddess of love: he has been stung by bees after stealing a honeycomb. Venus directs her attention towards the viewer instead. Her narrowed gaze appears flirtatious and she clutches the branch of an apple tree, evocative of t...
The glowing sky is set between dark hills and threatening storm clouds, the strip of dense grey clouds at the top echoing the blue silhouette of land at the bottom. Distinctive jigsaw-shaped clouds are depicted in layers white hovering over grey, blue sky beyond fading to rose and peach at the ho...
A man stands on the winding path beneath the dark, forbidding cliffs. He gazes out across the river, his white cap, coat and backpack lifting the bleakness of the cliffs behind him. High above him, the sun catches a strange construction on the cliff top and crosses the gap between the two halves...
Not on display
This type of image of Christ after his death – close up, showing his naked torso – originated in Byzantium (the Eastern Christian empire) but was very popular in Italy from about the thirteenth century. It was supposed to promote meditation upon Christ’s suffering and death.Christ is supported by...
Not on display
Anthony van Dyck was largely responsible for introducing the double or ‘friendship’ portrait to Britain. The informal composition of this painting as well as the quantities of shimmering silk on display perfectly illustrate the appeal of Van Dyck’s new style to aristocratic British patrons eager...
The Château Noir was a rambling house situated in extensive grounds near Aix-en-Provence in the south of France. Surrounded by wild vegetation, the run-down, isolated chateau offered Cézanne many subjects, and it became one of his favourite locations. He rented a small room in the house from 1897...
The Virgin Mary sits in front of a parapet, gazing tenderly at the Christ Child on her lap. Behind her is a cloth of honour, of the kind which was hung behind royalty. The plump infant turns his head away from his mother to look at something outside the picture.Christ’s position is curious: it’s...
Not on display
This is one of a pair of panels from a piece of painted furniture, a cassone (large chest). They show the story of the Roman Emperor Trajan, widely known from Jacopo da Voragine’s Golden Legend of about 1260 and retold by Dante in the Divine Comedy in the early fourteenth century. As Trajan prepa...
Not on display
A naked woman reclines on a luxurious bed, a small pink snake wriggling through her fingers. This is Cleopatra, the last Ptolemaic queen of Egypt, encouraging an asp to bite and poison her – according to some accounts, the cause of her death. Famous for her beauty and her love affairs with the Ro...
Not on display
We don't know who this little girl was, but she was clearly the daughter of very rich parents. She wears a black, gold and white cap decorated with black beads, real and artificial flowers and tassels, as well as an ornament on her right ear. Her collar seems to be lace and her dark blue dress is...
Not on display
This panel was once part of a larger structure with the image of the Virgin and Child in the centre. Dominic wears the habit of the religious order that he founded in 1216. He holds a white lily, symbolising the purity of his life, and a book, alluding to his great learning.
In this small painting, Brueghel represents ostriches, dromedary, lions, goats, birds and many other living creatures all gathered to symbolise the perfect harmony that existed in the world before the Fall of Man. In the background Eve is grabbing the forbidden fruit, and is about to give it to A...
Not on display
Pictures of this size and shape – it has 12 sides – were known as deschi da parte (or birth trays), and were common in fifteenth-century Florence. Originally made to bring food to a woman during labour, they later became symbolic gifts to celebrate marriage or childbirth.They were, like this one,...
Not on display
A thin-faced man with a hooked nose gazes directly out at us. He wears a black hat and his dark grey garments are perhaps made of watered silk: an irregular swirling black pattern extends across both chest and the puffed shoulders. There are no indications of the sitter’s identity.Corneille de Ly...
In this painting, Saint Ambrose (about 340–398), Bishop of Milan, stops the Emperor Theodosius (about 346–395) and his retinue from entering the city’s cathedral. This was a punishment for Theodosius‘ massacre of the people of Thessalonica, who had murdered his general, Butheric.This story was re...
Christ is shown resurrected after dying at the Crucifixion, his triumph over death reinforced by the way he cradles the Cross on which he was crucified. His body is weak and pale – we can see his ribcage, and his cheekbones stick out of his gaunt face. The focus of the image is the wound in Chris...
This picture is signed on the marble parapet that separates us from the Virgin Mary. She stands behind it and supports the Christ Child, who kneels on a cushion. He is fully dressed; some altarpieces in which the infant Christ is similarly well covered were said to have been commissioned for nuns...
Not on display
This picture is small, but it contains a lot of action. Franciscan friars (members of the religious order founded by Saint Francis) in brown robes hand out bread to the poor, an activity that was typical for them. The figure with the subtle halo most prominent among the friars is likely Saint Ant...
Not on display
Courbet was involved with the Paris Commune of 1871 and after its collapse he was tried and imprisoned in the Sainte-Pélagie prison. This painting can be identified with one mentioned in a list of works produced by the artist during his six-month imprisonment from 1871-72. Courbet began paintin...
The sitter wears the red cross of the military order of S. Stefano, founded in Pisa in 1561 by the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo I de' Medici. Behind the man’s head is a niche containing a sculpture group of a woman and child. Several books of various sizes are propped up on the ledge of the pan...
Not on display
According to the Old Testament story, when Pharoah ordered the execution of all Israelite boys, the infant Moses was taken by his mother and placed in a basket by the River Nile where he was found by Pharoah's daughter and her attendants. This painting shows the moment of discovery by Pharoah's...
The scenes on this panel describe the conception of the Virgin Mary by her mother Anne. In the upper scene Anne’s husband Joachim attempts to make an offering of a lamb at the temple but is turned away before he reaches the altar by two bearded priests. According to the Golden Legend, a thirteent...
Not on display
Dahl probably visited the waterfalls at Labro (Labrofoss) when on a sketching trip in Norway, his country of birth, in 1826. Around 80 kilometres west of Oslo, the Labrofoss are among Norway’s major falls. Dahl shows the lower part of the rapids, placing us on flat rocks directly facing the torre...
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