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30 of 653 paintings
This was painted seven years after the ending of the Thirty Years‘ War, one of the most destructive conflicts in European history and caused in part by a power struggle between Catholic and Protestant countries. We don’t know who the woman is, or if the painting was intended as a portrait or is a...
Not on display
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...
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...
Born in the fourth century, Saint Jerome was a scholar and a monk. His translation of the Bible from Greek into Latin is known as the Vulgate, and it is still used by the Catholic Church today.Antonello offers a peek into the saint’s environment through a fictive stone wall pierced by a broad arc...
The Virgin Mary glances down at her baby son, Christ, who clutches a pomegranate in his tiny fist. The fruit, with its blood-red juice, was a reminder of the torture and death he would face at the Crucifixion.Mary was also known as the Queen of Heaven, and her coronation by Christ was a popular s...
Not on display
The format of this portrait – the three-quarter bust-length view, the inclusion of the hands and the plain background are typical of German portraiture of the sixteenth-century. But the painting is in poor condition and has been overpainted extensively. The identities of the sitter and artist a...
Not on display
The great ship running before the wind in the centre of Bakhuizen’s picture is the Eendracht, one of the most famous vessels in the Dutch Navy. Built in 1653, the Eendracht was the 76-gun flagship of Lieutenant-Admiral Jacob van Wassenaer van Obdam.Bakhuizen painted the Eendracht several times bu...
Not on display
Golden hair, rosy lips and pale skin were the ideal of feminine beauty in fifteenth-century Florence. All feature in this lady’s portrait, which was probably made to celebrate her marriage.Around her long neck she wears a strand of orange beads with a pendant set with a large pearl. A cluster of...
Although we do not know his name, we can tell a lot about Baldung Grien’s mature sitter from the details of his costume. The large fur collar of his coat, the jewel on his cap and the two gold chains around his neck show off his wealth. The longer chain bears two badges: the Virgin and Child with...
Not on display
This elegant young man’s identity is revealed on the strip of paper or parchment curled around the pole. The inscription is now difficult to read, but appears to say: Lodovico Martinengo at the age of _ years. Painted by Bartolomeo Veneto 16 June 1530.When the picture was first acquired by the Na...
Not on display
We do not know this woman’s identity, but the enamel and gold coronet she wears suggests she may be of high rank. The pattern embroidered on her white satin sleeves could be her family’s heraldic device or perhaps a personal emblem.The fabric of her dress resembles a watered silk threaded with go...
Not on display
This is an early work by the Venetian painter Marco Basaiti. We do not know who this young man is but we can tell his age, origins and social rank from his costume: he wears the black gown and cap worn by citizens and gentlemen over the age of 25 in Venice.Basaiti has placed him against a vast la...
Not on display
The small size of this painting suggests that it was made for private worship at home. Images that stressed the maternal bond between mother and son, as this one does, were often made to appeal particularly to women.The design of the picture, where the Virgin Mary is placed against a mountainous...
Not on display
Christ arrives at the temple to find it full of money-changers and traders. Christ says, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves. And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them’ (Matthew 21: 12–15).Jacopo Bassano has depicted bo...
The identity of the man in this bust-length portrait is unknown but it appears to be a true likeness with little attempt at flattery. The top of the man’s head is visible through his thinning hair, and the texture of his skin and beard have been meticulously painted. Although he frowns, the wrink...
Not on display
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 is Richard Milles of Nackington, a Member of Parliament for Canterbury from 1761 to 1780, who sat for this portrait when he was in Rome on his Grand Tour. He points to a map inscribed with ‘Grisons’, the name of a Swiss Canton that he probably visited on his way to Italy.The classical column...
Not on display
Time, the winged figure holding an hourglass, orders his companion Old Age to disfigure the face of a young woman, the personification of Beauty. This interaction encourages us to consider the brevity of youth and the inevitable passing of time.Batoni often drew from a live model when preparing h...
The heavy, black clouds that hang low over the castle seem to threaten snow and yet more snow. Although a fitful sun struggles through, the eerie light on the castle’s yellow walls and steely tipped towers seems to come more from the moon than the sun. The tiny people skating on the ice seem insi...
Not on display
The figure in black is the Greek archbishop John Bessarion. In 1453, after the fall of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine (Eastern Christian) Empire, to the Islamic Ottoman Empire, Bessarion became a permanent resident in Venice. He joined the Scuola della Carità, a religious confratern...
Not on display
As ruler of the expanding Islamic Ottoman Empire, Sultan Mehmet II was one of the most powerful men in the world when this portrait was painted. Fascinated by portraiture and European culture, he sent a request for a painter to the Venetian authorities in 1479. Gentile Bellini, having recently co...
Not on display
This portrait is probably by Gentile Bellini, though we can‘t be sure. It’s unusual among his portraits – we don’t know the identity of the sitter and most of Gentile’s surviving portraits are of well-known figures. It was once thought to be the mathematician Girolamo Malatini because he holds a...
Not on display
The unusual horn-shaped cap and sumptuous silk robes identify this man as a doge, the elected ruler of Venice. We can‘t be sure who he is, but he has been identified in the past as Doge Niccolò Marcello, who was in power briefly from 1473 to 1474. A medal (Bode Museum, Berlin) inscribed with Marc...
In 1252 Saint Peter Martyr, a Dominican friar from Verona, was assassinated in an ambush by a group of heretics. This picture was once thought to be a ‘portrait’ of the saint: we can see the hilt of a dagger which has been plunged into his heart, and a cleaver lodged in his head.X-ray imagery sho...
Not on display
Leonardo Loredan knows that he is being looked at, but he does not return our gaze. He is the doge, the ruler of the Venetian Republic; elected in 1501, he ruled until his death in 1521.He wears white silk damask robes woven with gold and silver metal thread, clothing reserved for the most splend...
This type of image of Christ after his death – close up, showing his naked torso – originated in Byzantium (the Eastern Christian empire) but was very popular in Italy from about the thirteenth century. It was supposed to promote meditation upon Christ’s suffering and death.Christ is supported by...
Not on display
During the 1470s and 1480s Bellini produced a series of small-scale images of the Virgin and Child, destined for the homes of his Venetian patrons who used them as aids to private prayer.The naked Christ lies on a marble parapet, probably intended to recall his dead body in the tomb – a reminder...
In order to meet the huge demand for his paintings, Giovanni Bellini had a large workshop of assistants who produced works in his style, under his supervision – like this one, which shows the Three Kings worshipping the infant Christ. According to the Gospel of Matthew they followed a star – we c...
Not on display
According to the Gospel of Luke, Christ was circumcised, like all Jewish baby boys, when he was eight days old (Luke 2: 21). He is shown naked, sitting on a cushion upon a table or altar, clenching his little fists as a priest performs the ritual. His mother, the Virgin Mary, gently props him up;...
Not on display
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