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30 of 2,646 paintings
Piero was the first artist to write a treatise on perspective – that is, creating an illusion of three-dimensional space on a flat surface. Here, he has painted objects in proportion, so that they appear as we see them in real life. This emphasises the depth of the landscape, but also the harmony...
The unknown man in this half-length portrait proudly displays an eight-pointed silver cross suspended from a black cord round his neck, which identifies him as a Knight of the Order of Saint John. His left hand clasps a sword. The pose points to the twin aims of the Order: religious and military...
Saint Sebastian stands naked, covered only by a translucent loincloth. His youthful body is lean and muscly, and its strength, along with his upright pose and calm gaze, is at odds with the 12 arrows that pierce his flesh.According to the Golden Legend, a thirteenth-century compilation of the liv...
This is traditionally said to be a portrait of the Englishman John Scott, who bought the estate at Banks Fee, near Stow-on-the-Wold in Gloucestershire, in 1753. During the early 1770s – around the same time as this work was produced – Scott did travel to Rome, where the famous portraitist Batoni...
This apparently simple portrait of a young man was revolutionary in Italian painting. Until this moment, artists painted people either in profile view, so only half their face was visible, or by turning them three-quarters to face the viewer.Here, Botticelli paints the boy head on, mapping his wh...
The Virgin Mary and Christ Child are enthroned beneath a canopy and before a cloth of honour of the kind displayed behind medieval kings and queens.The naked child is balanced on her knee and crumples the pages of an open book. The unidentified donor kneels on the right: he was presumably called...
Not on display
A supremely poised young woman is painted in three-quarter view. Her right hand curls around the handle of a mirror, while she appears to be caressing a lock of hair with her left. She wears a white blouse under a black velvet bodice and yellow detachable sleeves over her arms. This study is one...
This panel is one of three that come from the lower tier of an altarpiece made for the Duke of Milan; the other two are also in the National Gallery’s collection.The Archangel Raphael is the hero of the Book of Tobit, which is part of the Roman Catholic Bible. Tobit sent his son Tobias on a long...
This idyllic view of elegant trees and a peaceful lake is one of a number of related scenes painted by Corot at this period. The lake is one of those at Ville-d'Avray near Paris, the location of Corot’s family home, and the trees are based on a drawing he had made at Civita Castellana during his...
Not on display
This is a copy of the central figure of Christ from Luini’s Christ Among the Doctors, also in National Gallery’s collection. Luini’s composition may be based on an original design by Leonardo.At the age of 12, Jesus was taken to the Temple in Jerusalem by Mary and Joseph, who became accidentally...
Not on display
We have a magnificent view of the Grand Canal in Venice during the annual regatta, which was held on 2 February and attracted large numbers of visitors each year. All eyes are on the one-oared gondolas racing up the middle of the canal. Just right of centre two craft swing around the bend, tilted...
This small arched painting shows the Virgin Mary and Christ Child seated in a landscape. Christ, balanced on the Virgin’s knee, reaches out to take something – probably a flower – that is being offered to him by an angel.The composition is a free version of The Virgin and Child with an Angel (Upt...
Not on display
This richly dressed lady, whose identity is unknown, sits behind a parapet against a plain, dark background. Her body is turning slightly away from us and her hand rests on the parapet, making it look as though she might be sitting at an open window. The parapet was a common device in Venetian po...
Not on display
This panel depicts Saint Nicholas of Tolentino, a thirteenth-century mystic, and an unidentified bishop saint. It formed part of an altarpiece of which at least two other fragments are also in the National Gallery’s collection. It was positioned to the left of a central panel that depicts the Vir...
Not on display
We are looking at the east end of a Gothic church, where the body of a bishop is being exhumed from his tomb in front of the high altar. This is Saint Hubert, Bishop of Maastricht and Liège, who died in 727. He is being moved from Liège to the newly founded abbey of Saint-Hubert-en-Ardenne, in 82...
Lady Anne, 2nd Countess of Albemarle, is approaching 60 in this portrait. She is the widow of William-Anne Keppel, 2nd Earl of Albemarle, with whom she had 15 children, although only four sons and two daughters survived childhood. She holds a shuttle and is engaged in ‘knotting’ – a pastime invol...
Christ’s body has been taken down from the Cross and brought to be entombed by his grieving mourners. The Virgin Mary gently touches her son’s hair and face. Mary Magdalene, her long hair uncovered, takes Christ’s hand tenderly in her own. Beside her, one of the holy women present at the Crucifix...
General George Augustus Eliott, later Lord Heathfield (1770–90) defended the British territory of Gibraltar against a long siege by the Spanish and their French allies, which ended on 13 September 1782.Reynolds captures the moment of danger before the General’s triumph at Gibraltar. He holds a gi...
This oil sketch is a study for a large painting of 1873 which now hangs in the entrance hall of the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. Like this work, the painting is also known as The Harvest, but it is not intended to be viewed as an image of rural life, rather it is an evocation of a golden age.There are...
Not on display
Jacob van Ruisdael’s washerwomen are strong and sturdy. One stands in the river up to her ankles and raises a stick to beat the linen she’s washing, while her companion stoops to rinse a cloth. Behind them a heap of dirty washing awaits the attention of their brawny arms. Their dog lifts his head...
Not on display
Four Roman soldiers – the guards of Christ’s tomb, stationed to prevent anyone stealing the body – sleep on the ground. Christ, holding the flag of the Resurrection, steps out of the tomb, its lid cast aside on the ground behind.This panel was part of the altarpiece Ugolino made for the church of...
Christ’s body hangs limply on the Cross; the torment of his crucifixion is almost over. He is supported in his final moments by the Virgin Mary and his disciple John the Evangelist. Antonello has composed the picture with a low viewpoint; it is as if we are looking up at a Crucifix placed upon an...
The Virgin is seated on a marble seat, intricately carved and decorated with multi-coloured inlay, outlined in gold. It resembles a Roman tomb, perhaps as a reminder of Christ’s future sacrifice at his Crucifixion. Here, Christ is shown as an infant, tenderly reaching to touch his mother’s face,...
A young man with fair hair and blue eyes is shown from the side, with nothing to indicate his identity or social status. The picture is painted on a paper support, which may originally have been laid down on a panel; it is now mounted on canvas.Profile portraits like this had largely gone out of...
Not on display
This imaginary landscape in the flatlands of the Low Countries conjures a remarkably effective illusion of a vast panorama opening up before us. Koninck has used two particular techniques to create this effect. He’s made the figure in the middle ground the most prominent and painted the landscape...
An old woman looks down intently at the large book she holds open – very likely a Bible, since she’s dressed in the plain clothing often worn by Calvinists, followers of a strict branch of the Protestant faith. This isn‘t a portrait but a tronie, pictures which showed stock characters, often with...
Not on display
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
A female saint clasps a martyr’s palm and a richly bound book. We don't know who she was meant to be, but her wrinkled skin shows that she was no longer young. Although her clothing is restrained she is dressed as a laywoman, not a nun, and was clearly well educated: in medieval art books were sy...
Not on display
The Archangel Gabriel announces to the Virgin Mary that she will conceive the Son of God; she holds a Bible open at words from the prophet Isaiah which echo Gabriel’s: ‘Behold a Virgin shall conceive and bear a son...’The conception takes place at the moment she hears the words, which is why a ti...
In 1611 Rubens was commissioned to paint an altarpiece for Antwerp Cathedral. This work is likely to have been presented to the commissioning guild and the cathedral custodians for approval before work started on the large altarpiece. We see how Christ’s lifeless body is removed from the cross in...
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