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30 of 2,652 paintings
This must be one of the most striking studies in ugliness in Western painting. An elderly woman with a very short nose and an exceedingly long upper lip rests one hand on a marble parapet. Her skin is pimply and wrinkled, and she seems to have lost her teeth. In spite of her hideous appearance, s...
Christ, hovering on wispy clouds, is surrounded by angels who sing, dance and play musical instruments. He is shown triumphant over death: his red and white flag was associated with his resurrection; the wound in his right hand, caused when he was crucified, is a reminder of his physical sufferin...
The design of this tender image of the Virgin Mary with the Christ Child and an angel is derived from a picture by Fra Filippo Lippi, the Florentine painter and monk. It was a popular composition in Florence and there are numerous versions of it by different artists. The semi-transparent veil wit...
A priest, Simeon, receives the infant Christ from the Virgin Mary, ready to perform the Jewish rite of circumcision. Two women cup turtle doves in their hands, the traditional offering for the ritual of purification, made after a woman had given birth (Luke 2: 21–24).Simeon recognised Christ’s di...
This painting of a man wearing a jaunty, feathered cap and holding up a glass of beer, a refill jug in his other hand, has historically been called ‘The Toper’. This was a popular term for a drinker or a drunkard, and a relatively common subject in Dutch and Flemish painting. However, it is possi...
Not on display
The story of the death of John the Baptist is related in the Gospel of Mark (6: 16–29). John had criticised King Herod for marrying his brother’s wife, Herodias, and she sought revenge. At Herod’s birthday feast, Herodias’s daughter Salome so delighted the King by her dancing that he promised her...
This warm, tranquil port scene is bathed in sunlight: the clock on the building to the left records the time as five o'clock. A coat of arms with three golden fleurs-de-lis (emblem of the French king) above the clock and on the ship’s flags to the right suggests this painting was intended for a F...
Not on display
Barely a third of van Goyen’s painting of life on the ice in seventeenth-century Dordrecht shows people; the rest is sky. But he still manages to pack the picture full of incident and humour. Some people squeeze into horse-drawn sledges, while others zoom across the ice or stand and chat. Some pl...
Not on display
This painting was most likely commissioned to commemorate the alliance of the Milbanke and Melbourne families through marriage in April 1769. The married woman is Elizabeth Milbanke (seated in a carriage on the left) and her husband is Peniston Lamb, 1st Lord Melbourne, mounted on a chestnut hors...
Not on display
In 1999 this panel was reunited with its pair, an image of the Virgin and Child. Together they formed a diptych, a painting made of two panels joined with a hinge.Christ is shown on the Cross, just after his death – a type of image called the Man of Sorrows. Its origins lie in Byzantine painting...
This portrait is one of Carel Fabritius’s final works, made in the last year of his short life. He was apprenticed to Rembrandt between 1641 and 1643 and is generally considered one of his most talented pupils.Although it is impossible to be sure – no documented likeness of Fabritius exists – thi...
It is night-time, and we are looking into the dimly lit apse of a Catholic church. An elaborate metal baptismal font stands on red marble steps in the foreground; the column next to it is a font crane, which supports the font cover. There are still several visitors in the church and the side chap...
Not on display
An elderly but muscular man with an impressive beard sits in a rocky landscape. Beside him is a pile of books, on top of which sits a skull wearing a cardinal’s hat. He leans on a second pile, and points to the text of an open volume resting on a rocky ledge. This is the fourth-century scholar an...
Not on display
This exquisite little picture evokes the tranquillity of the early morning, perhaps – judging by the low, clear light and puffiness of the clouds – at the beginning of spring. The reflections in the calm water are perfect, undisturbed by the porpoises in the shadows. Two fishing boats appear on t...
Not on display
The shadowy dome of St Paul’s Cathedral is viewed from the south bank of the Thames. Just to the front of the cathedral the newly built Blackfriars Bridge straddles the river; behind it a train, invisible but for its plume of smoke, passes over Blackfriars Railway Bridge. The leaden sky is heavil...
Not on display
The Virgin Mary kneels and bows her head before the newborn Christ, while her husband Joseph sits behind her on a low rock. Three shepherds bow in worship to the left. Despite its small scale, the painting demonstrates Signorelli’s immense skill at drawing the human body in complex poses, coverin...
This is a very early work by Bernardo Bellotto, the talented nephew of the influential Venetian artist Canaletto. It was painted in around 1738, when he was only about 16 years old and working in his uncle’s studio in Venice. By this time Bellotto was creating his own versions of some of Canalett...
This is a cassone, or wedding chest, a traditional part of the furnishing of a wealthy Renaissance home. Pairs of chests were often purchased by the groom as part of the ‘counter-dowry’ and the paintings on them often told moral tales suitable for prosperous families.Here the wicked schoolmaster...
Not on display
The Virgin and Christ Child stand between two saints, one from the first century, one from the thirteenth. They don't have haloes, but we can tell who they are from their appearances and traditional attributes.On the left is the first-century Saint Paul, holding a book and the sword with which he...
Not on display
This back view of a standing male nude is an académie, which is a study, usually a chalk drawing or an oil painting, made from a live male model. These life studies formed part of the classical training of (male) artists from the eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth century, particularly in France. T...
Hogarth certainly painted this sketch from life, and although he may never have known the girl’s name, this is defiynitely a portrait of an individual. For at least a century before and after Hogarth painted The Shrimp Girl, most of the travelling sellers of shellfish in London were women, usuall...
This triptych (a painting in three parts) shows the Virgin Mary just after her birth. Saint Anne, Mary’s mother, props herself up in her bed while midwives and attendants make food and prepare a basin for washing. This scene was particularly popular in Siena, a city devoted to the Virgin Mary.The...
Géricault was a keen horseman, and his passion for horses was matched by his expert understanding of their anatomy. In 1813 he produced a number of oil studies and finished paintings, possibly including this one, of horses at the Imperial stables at Versailles. These paintings are characterised b...
This painting, like its pendant Buildings and Figures near a River with Shipping is a capriccio, a scene made up of elements drawn from reality and fantasy. The cascade at the right and the colourful figures on the opposite bank – resting shepherds, elegantly dressed ladies, and a milkmaid attend...
Not on display
Jan van de Velde was an Amsterdam artist who specialised in still-life painting. His compositions were simple, like this arrangement of glass, oysters and lemons. The knife handle protruding from the table was designed to demonstrate his skill in showing perspective.A seventeenth-century Dutch st...
Not on display
In this lively, informal portrait, Anthony van Dyck presents to us someone he had known for several years and whose company he clearly enjoyed. François Langlois was an engraver, art dealer and publisher who lived in Italy in the 1620s, which is where he must have met Van Dyck. Langlois was also...
Christ lies across his mother’s lap in a position intended to recall the pietà, when his dead body was returned to her after the Crucifixion. Saint Joseph watches him sleeping and the infant John the Baptist raises his finger to his lips, asking us for silence.The Virgin holds open a Bible. The p...
Not on display
You've viewed 30 of 2,652 paintings