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30 of 31 paintings
Insects crawl on and around a spray of creeping thistle and borage flowers, all casually arranged to appear natural. But the creamy white surface is reminiscent of vellum, the prepared animal skin that was used for manuscripts and miniatures, highlighting the artificial nature of this composition...
This painting is a strange fiction: roses and tulips, lilac and snake’s head lilies, aren't all in bloom at the same time, so the artist would have made drawings and sketches of them at different times of the year, later incorporating them into the picture. Scientific exploration and discovery fl...
Meticulously painted insects, flowers and berries are laid out on a plain creamy white surface without any overlap. Each specimen is carefully observed and identifiable. All of this might give us the idea that we are looking at a scientific illustration, but these insects appear very much alive:...
The woman’s large white headdress, its calligraphic shape made up of stiff, angular folds, is striking against the dark background. Shading around the folds reinforces the sense of their depth, and the artist seems to want us to think that a fly, deceived by his illusion, has attempted to land on...
Aert van der Neer was an expert at creating a sense of depth in his landscapes. Often, as here, he used the sinuous path of a river or inlet receding into the distance to emphasise the effect. In this picture he has gone a step further, using figures to reinforce that recession and to inject a se...
Not on display
Eleven finely dressed men inspect and discuss the contents of a large room packed with works of art, astronomical instruments and antiques. Their distinctive features suggest that these might be portraits of known artists, connoisseurs, collectors and art dealers – the ‘cognoscenti’ of the painti...
On his first visit to Paris in 1875 Mancini signed a contract to supply pictures to a leading dealer, Goupil & Cie. On a second visit to the French capital in 1877, cut short by a mental breakdown – he never returned – Mancini delivered five paintings to Goupil, including this work. It shows an e...
On display elsewhere
Time and inexpert hands have not been kind to this picture. White flowers, difficult to identify with certainty, and heavy roses loom out of the darkness. A scarlet poppy turns its back to display ragged grey sepals.The flowers are painted with skill, but the murky background has been considerabl...
Not on display
Paulus Theodorus van Brussel’s arrangement of fruit and flowers reveals the eighteenth-century taste for paintings depicting the exotic and expensive set in artful disarray against the faint background of a garden. It’s a celebration of the bounty of nature and is, at the same time, an appealing...
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
This profusion of luscious fruit and flowers, just past their best, may be a celebration of nature, though it’s anything but natural. The pineapple balanced precariously on top of a tower of flowers is enough to place it in the realms of fantasy. The whole picture looks as if it has been blown to...
Not on display
Tulips, roses, jonquils, carnations, fritillaries and a single blue iris are massed into a Chinese vase; costly flowers in a costly container. Above them all, Madonna lilies rise like shining white trumpets at the peak of the bouquet, made slightly less regal by the tiny beetle making its way up...
This is no shy, hide-in-a-corner painting. It’s meant to dazzle and it does. It would have taken a long time to identify each flower and this is part of the picture’s purpose. Van Huysum is after, and achieves, excess: a celebration of nature, an entertaining puzzle and a display of wealth, cultu...
Not on display
This picture is unusual among Moroni’s secular paintings: the others that survive are all portraits. It is the only single-figure allegorical painting known by him and is likely to date from about 1560. The woman may be intended as a personification of Chastity but she also represents the Roman p...
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 Florence in 1682–5. Ten of the modelli are in the National Gallery'​s collection, and this one represents ​one of the four Cardinal Virtues. Fi...
Not on display
The luxuriant flowers in van Walscapelle’s painting loom out of the darkness. A single shaft of light makes them glow. His painting seems alive and moving – nature is busy. The flowers appear to nod as if a breeze has passed through, leaving leaves trailing, the petals of the tulip dropping, a ca...
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 represents one of the four Cardinal Virtues. First identifie...
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 represents ​one of the four Cardinal Virtues. First identif...
Not on display
Many – very probably most – seventeenth-century Dutch landscape paintings do not show a real view, but were composed to capture the spirit or impression of a place. Even where they do depict somewhere specific they would often be made more aesthetically pleasing by exaggeration or rearrangement.T...
Not on display
The watermills depicted here still survive today – they are part of the former estate at Singraven, near Denekamp, one of the most easterly points of Holland. Hobbema seems to have been inspired to paint them because his teacher, Jacob van Ruisdael, had depicted the mills on several occasions.Whi...
Not on display
This is a landscape full of sunshine, energy and life. The strong sweeping curve of the track dominates the middle of the picture. Two greyhounds bound along while a horseman and his companion chat easily as they go, and in the distance a pedlar with his pack ambles along behind them. The woodlan...
Not on display
If pictures had a smell, then Ambrosius Bosschaert’s paintings would fill the air with exotic scent. His many different flowers are displayed against a dark background to show their colours, shapes and textures to the fullest – pale roses, yellow and white narcissi, a single yellow chrysanthemum...
Not on display
In a warm and dark room, Courbet’s rich, ripe apples seem to glow as if in firelight. The heavy earthenware bowl lined with pale blue slip seems almost too small for the weight of the fruit piled into it. Among them is a single pomegranate, squeezed in at the base of the heap.In 1871 Courbet was...
Not on display
A tempting pyramid of exotic foods stands out against the dark background of Jan Davidsz. de Heem’s sensuous painting, evoking delectable flavours and scents. At the base, three fleshy oysters curled up in their shells are placed in a triangle, echoing the pyramid form. A single, half-full glass...
This extravagant celebration of textures, scents and tastes is far more than a naturalistic study. It’s high artifice – a picture of pure luxury. Jan van Os would probably have drawn his ideal arrangement and painted each element from sketches and drawings, yet everything appears real, as if you...
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 represents ​one of the four Cardinal Virtues. First identif...
Not on display
The sitter in this portrait is clearly a prosperous man, conventionally but expensively dressed in the style of the mid-1640s. Beyond that, no evidence has survived – we don’t know who he is. Nevertheless, this portrait is a good example of Hals’s ability both to capture a convincing likeness and...
Wybrand Hendriks has piled up his bouquet of fruit and flowers against a soft, green background of woodland trees, till it tips sideways and tumbles down the canvas on a steep diagonal, ending in the forms of the two dead birds. They are snipe, game birds to be eaten. An exotic pineapple sits at...
Not on display
You've viewed 30 of 31 paintings