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30 of 2,639 paintings
A young woman, dressed in a dazzling yellow skirt and red bodice, semi-reclines in a dark landscape setting, of which only some rocks and plants in the foreground are visible. Her wings and the trumpets she holds identify her as the allegorical figure of Fame. Normally Fame is shown with a single...
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
In 1845 Ary Scheffer painted an episode recounted by Saint Augustine in his Confessions. The Church Father recalled sitting with his mother Monica shortly before her death and discussing the kingdom of heaven. The picture, for which Scheffer used his own mother as the model for Saint Monica, beca...
Not on display
This painting carries many of the hallmarks of an Italianate picture: a soft Mediterranean light, the sun still warm although night is falling, distant hills not likely to be seen in a flat Dutch landscape, and idealised peasants with their garments loosened and walking at a leisurely pace. As fa...
Not on display
A number of costumed figures on horseback and on foot, distributed in different groups in the foreground, are seen beside a fountain near a forest. On the left, four women wearing long dresses seem to be busy chatting and observing the two horsemen next to them. On the right-hand side of the pain...
Not on display
Monet was captivated by London’s fog during his first stay in the capital from 1870 to 1871. Later in life he told the art dealer Rene Gimpel: ‘Without the fog, London would not be a beautiful city. It’s the fog that gives it its magnificent breadth.’ This misty composition is anchored by carefu...
Two women retrieve a baby from a basket floating in a river, while four others look on from the bank. According to the Old Testament story (Exodus 2: 5), the infant Moses was hidden by his mother in a reed basket on the River Nile to save him from Pharaoh’s order that all the male children of the...
This is the interior of a brothel. On the left, three men drink with the women who work there, whose skirts are hoisted up to show their legs. On the right, we see a group of entertainers: a boy does a headstand on a stool; a small dog has perhaps already jumped through the hoop on the floor. An...
Not on display
This scene is so unusual that it’s not entirely clear who the figures are intended to represent. Usually the Three Kings are shown kneeling before the Christ Child; here, instead, we can see two of them standing proudly before the Virgin and Child, presenting their gifts in large vessels. We aren...
The Virgin Mary has collapsed with grief after learning that Christ, her son, has accepted his inevitable death as the will of God and is making to leave for Jerusalem. The episode is not recorded in the Bible, but it appears in a fourteenth-century German devotional text as well as in Passion pl...
Saint Lawrence, a deacon in the early Christian church in Rome, was executed in AD 258 by the pagan Roman authorities; this painting tells the story of the events that led to his martyrdom.The Roman prefect Decius ordered Lawrence to hand over the treasures belonging to the Church. Having already...
Not on display
We know little about Montagna’s training but it is possible that he spent some time in Giovanni Bellini’s workshop in Venice. This composition, in which the holy figures are shown in half-length often set against a landscape background and usually behind a marble ledge, was pioneered by the Venet...
Not on display
A young soldier looks up in desperation at the horse bolting towards him, its hoof outstretched to trample him down. The beast throws back its head, frothing at the mouth as it whinnies in terror. The soldier’s own horse rolls to the ground; splayed over the rocks beside it, an armoured foot sold...
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...
Not on display
This woman is most likely Sophonisba, an ill-fated but brave Carthaginian princess; she drains a glass of poison. In 206 BC Massinia allied with the Roman general Scipio to defeat the western Numidians, ruled by Sophonisba’s first husband, Syphax. Massinia fell in love with Sophonisba, but could...
This large pala (an altarpiece with a single, unified surface) was painted for a church in Pistoia, but sawn into pieces in the eighteenth century. It was reassembled in the National Gallery – look closely and you can see lines where the fragments were put back together.Two fourth-century saints...
This small painting is an incomplete copy of a panel titled The Perfect Accord (L’Accord parfait), which Watteau probably painted between 1717 and 1719, and is now in the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. This pastoral scene of a couple strolling in the countryside as other peop...
Not on display
This small painting shows how Antonello revolutionised Venetian portraiture in the late fifteenth century: the three-quarter pose, dark background and strong lighting are all innovations from Northern Europe which focus attention entirely on the man’s face.Antonello’s skill at painting in oil ena...
Christ blesses the viewer with his right hand. Antonello has altered the original position of the fingers and hand, foreshortening them – that is, compressing their real length – so that they appear to be projecting out of the picture. If you look closely, you can see the outlines of their initi...
The man in this portrait has not yet been identified. The upper ring on his left forefinger may provide a clue: it seems to show the arms of the Strauss family (the other ring seems to have shown another coat of arms which can no longer be deciphered). It has been suggested that the man depicted...
Not on display
This is the first of a series of paintings by David Teniers in which the four seasons are given human form. Here, Spring is personified as a young gardener with a bushy beard, heaving a heavy pot containing a sapling. His step is jaunty and he has a gleam in his eye. His jacket looks new, and his...
Not on display
On the banks of a wide meandering river, men and women are catching fish. Vernet has used the brightly lit woman in red and the jutting tree as devices to draw our eye into the composition. A man with a rod and a basket of fish sits next to the river with his back to a large mossy rock. His dog h...
Venus, the goddess of love, reclines languidly on her bed, the curve of her body echoed in the sweep of sumptuous satin fabric. The pearly tones of her smooth skin contrast with the rich colours and lively brushstrokes of the curtain and sheets.Venus‘ face is reflected in the mirror held up by he...
A strong, determined woman is pushing a reluctant youth into a chariot on the left. This is Aurora, goddess of the dawn, who has fallen in love with a mortal, the hunter Cephalus. He resists her advances, for he is already in love with Procris, daughter of the king of Athens.This is one of two la...
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...
Not on display
The sky is moody but the scene is one of pastoral tranquillity. A golden light picks out the flanks of the animals which rest peacefully in the foreground and the figure of the woman who chats to the shepherd. This was a fashionable atmospheric effect, characteristic of Italianate landscape paint...
Not on display
This altarpiece is a unique example in the National Gallery’s collection of a work made by a late medieval artist working on both sides of the Adriatic, the sea between Italy and the Balkan coast. The picture may be one of the earliest painted representations of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conce...
Not on display
You've viewed 30 of 2,639 paintings