This part of the Gallery A display includes paintings dating from the 17th century onwards. It highlights the variety of genres in which painters specialised during the period, such as landscape, still life, portraiture and history painting. Some paintings are grouped by theme or place of origin and can be appreciated in this context: for example, a group of Italian Baroque oil sketches, a wall of French 18th-century portraits and a selection of landscapes and marines from the Dutch Golden Age.
The later paintings on display underline the notable shift in subject matter towards nature and contemporary life in the 19th century. Paintings by artists associated with the Barbizon School emphasise the importance of landscape painting in France during this period, also evident in the works by Dutch and Belgian artists shown nearby. Further groups of portraits, genre scenes and still lifes highlight the very different approach to these subjects in the 19th century, and Emile-Jean-Horace Vernet’s four large battle scenes perfectly illustrate the romantic reinvention of this genre.