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30 of 2,646 paintings
A young man kneels in a prison cell, wearing the robes and horned cap of a doge (the elected head of the Venetian state). On the ground are wooden stocks and heavy chains with manacles from which he has just been freed. Christ empties a cup over the young man’s bowed head. Two angels arrive holdi...
Not on display
A burst of brilliant light shines on the newborn Christ, who is watched over by Mary, Joseph and a gathering of worshippers and onlookers. The source of the light is hidden, so it seems to radiate directly from the sleeping child, illuminating the faces of all around him.The scene represents the...
Not on display
These saints come from a polyptych (a multi-panelled altarpiece) painted in about 1450 for the church of San Giovanni Evangelista in Pratovecchio, Tuscany. Other parts of this altarpiece are also in the National Gallery.San Giovanni was a Camaldolese nunnery and the saints on its altarpieces were...
Not on display
This elegant blonde woman with a jewelled crown and a martyr’s palm is Saint Catherine of Alexandria. She rests her left hand on the edge of the spiked wheel, just visible in the corner – she was tortured on one, and it became her attribute (a symbol traditionally associated with her).The strang...
Not on display
In this scene inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Andromeda, daughter of the Ethiopian queen Cassiope, is about to be sacrificed to placate a monster summoned by Neptune, god of the sea. The hero Perseus appears at top left on his winged horse Pegasus, preparing to kill the monster and rescue the d...
Not on display
The subject of the Purification of the Temple is taken from the New Testament (Matthew 21: 12–13). Jesus drove the traders out of the Temple in Jerusalem, accusing them of turning a house of prayer into a den of thieves.Venusti painted numerous small-scale copies of drawings and frescoes by Miche...
The Three Kings – Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar – present gifts to the Christ Child in the ruins of a grand building. The Virgin Mary sits on the edge of the manger while Saint Joseph, her husband, comes down a staircase just visible to the left. A crowd of curious onlookers, some wearing turban...
We don’t know their names, but this was undoubtedly a wealthy, fashion-conscious family, almost certainly from Antwerp where the artist, Gonzales Coques, was based. Group portraits such as this were popular among the city elite and artists incorporated gestures, looks and activities to bring the...
The resurrected Christ has appeared to the Virgin Mary in a room in a fifteenth-century Netherlandish house. The appearance of Christ to the Virgin is not mentioned in the Gospels, but it was widely believed that immediately after the Resurrection he revealed himself first to his mother.In the ni...
Not on display
This panel depicts the attack on two Dominican friars near Milan in 1252, in which Peter Martyr was murdered. The woodsmen in the background echo the violence with which the saint was killed. A member of Bellini’s workshop based the outlines of the four central figures on Bellini’s painting of th...
This large panel comes from an altarpiece painted in 1491 by Carlo Crivelli. It was made for the Ottoni family chapel in the Franciscan church at Matelica, in the Italian Marches.The Virgin, to whom the chapel was dedicated, appears crowned as the Queen of Heaven, with the Christ Child on her kne...
Not on display
This huge oval-shaped painting, which is about 3 metres long, was commissioned to decorate a ceiling in a palazzo belonging to the Contarini family. The scale of the figures and the sense that they are above us hint at the intended destination: this work was made to be seen from below, and at a g...
Not on display
These musical angels were originally at the top of the left wing of an elborate altarpiece that sat at the high altar of the Abbey of St Bertin in Saint-Omer, northern France. Beneath them Guillaume Fillastre, abbot of St Bertin and the altarpiece’s commissioner, knelt at prayer inside a Gothic b...
An unknown man gazes past us into the distance. There is nothing to identify him beyond the scroll in his hand, which tells us his age: 38. His clothing is sombre – there is no conspicuous display of wealth and status – but it does suggest that he was a man of means.The man’s costume and the styl...
This panel once formed the left shutter of an altarpiece in the Benedictine abbey at Liesborn in north-west Germany. The right-hand shutter is also in the National Gallery’s collection.This painting shows, from left to right, Saints Gregory, Maurice and Augustine. The gilded clasp that fastens Sa...
Saint Luke was one of the four evangelists who wrote the gospels. He probably also wrote the Acts of the Apostles. He is supposed to have been a doctor. According to legend, Luke painted a picture of the Virgin Mary. Because of this he is regarded as the patron saint of painters. Medieval artist...
Not on display
The Virgin Mary is seated on a stone bench under a richly jewelled canopy, the infant Christ on her lap. He leans over to the left, his hand raised in a gesture of blessing, and faces a female saint. The jar she holds identifies her as Mary Magdalene: it contains the ointment with which she would...
Not on display
This is the second of two panels from a cassone (a large chest made for a domestic setting), which depict one of the founding stories of ancient Rome. When the Romans couldn't find wives, their leader Romulus came up with a devious plan: he invited the neighbouring Sabines to attend some celebrat...
Not on display
This painting was probably once the centre panel of a triptych (a painting made up of three sections) showing episodes from the Passion (Christ’s torture and execution). The dead Christ hangs from the Cross, and three angels collect the blood from his wounds in chalices.On the left are the Virgin...
Not on display
Costly blooms like roses and tulips are tumbled together with humbler flowers like morning glory and marigolds, forming an exuberant, almost wild, bouquet. Tiny insects burrow through the petals while a cabbage white butterfly balances precariously on top.The painting isn’t as spontaneous as it a...
Not on display
Paris is carrying off Helen, wife of King Menelaus of Sparta, while her companions stand elegantly by. It was this action which precipitated the Trojan War. Helen may also be the woman on the left in conversation with a female companion. The scene is painted on a 'desco da parto' or birth tray....
Beata Paola was a member of the Camaldolese order. This panel was part of a altarpiece which was built for the monastery, Santa Maria degli Angeli. Beata Paola was buried under the high altar. She died in 1368. Her depiction on the pilaster assists the dating of the altarpiece.
Not on display
This modello, or detailed oil study, is one of a group of 12 that Giordano made in preparation for the ceiling frescoes in the Palazzo Medici Riccardi in 1682–85. Ten of the modelli are in the National Gallery’s collection, and this one corresponds to the group in the centre of the ceiling of the...
The Passion of Christ (the episodes connected with his crucifixion and resurrection) is narrated in five scenes from left to right, starting with the Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, moving through Christ’s betrayal and arrest to the Crucifixion, Deposition and Resurrection.This is the predella...
Not on display
Louis-Gabriele-Eugène Isabey was among the first of the nineteenth-century French painters to be inspired by the Normandy coast, which was to become an important location for artists such as Boudin and Monet. Yet despite its title, this small picture may not be set in Dieppe, a fishing port on th...
Not on display
This is one of a pair of portraits of a husband and wife, one of the richest couples in the Netherlands. Margaretha de Geer had been married to Jacob Trip for nearly 60 years, and the two portraits, both in the National Gallery, were made to hang together, almost certainly in one of the grand rec...
Eris, goddess of discord, was the only immortal not invited to an important wedding. Furious at being left out, she threw a golden apple inscribed ‘To the Fairest’ among all the goddesses at the feast. Three claimed the title – Minerva, Juno and Venus. Jupiter, chief of the gods, declared that Pa...
Saint Nicholas lived in the fourth century and was a bishop of Myra, on the southern coast of modern Turkey. His relics were taken from Myra to Bari in Italy in 1087 and remain there today, which is why he is known as Saint Nicholas of Bari. He is the model of our ‘Santa Claus’ because of a lege...
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...
The Virgin Mary sits in the countryside outside a distant town, holding the naked, wriggling Christ Child on her lap. Archangel Michael is identified by his name inscribed on the neckline of his robes. Saint Veronica holds the veil on which the image of Christ’s face was miraculously imprinted wh...
Not on display
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