National Gallery


Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN


020-7747 2885



Opening times:

Daily 10:00–18:00 (Fri until 21:00)

How to get there:

Tube: Charing Cross/Leicester Square

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Additional information:

Restaurant, café and two shops. On-line shop

The National Gallery’s collection of Western European art, spanning the period c. 1250–1900, is one of the finest in the world. The Italian early and high Renaissance collection is particularly rich, with countless works of international significance; there are important early Netherlandish works; major holdings of 17th-century Dutch and Flemish masters, including Rembrandt, Rubens and van Dyck; notable works by the French masters Claude and Poussin, as well as a significant collection of French Impressionist pictures. Although Tate Britain is the official home of British art, the National Gallery also has some seminal masterpieces of the British School, which hold their own alongside Continental works.


History of the Gallery

Compared with other European national galleries, London’s was established relatively late, in 1824. Various earlier moves to found a gallery had come to nothing, but in the 1820s the artist and collector Sir George Beaumont (1753–1827) offered to the nation his collection of pictures, with two provisos: that the government purchase for the nation one of the finest private collections in London, the collection of the wealthy banker John Julius Angerstein; and that suitable accommodation be found for it. In April 1824 Parliament voted to pay £57,000 for Angerstein’s 38 Italian, Dutch, Flemish and British works, the core of the National Gallery’s collection. Sebastiano del Piombo’s magnificent altarpiece, The Raising of Lazarus, was officially the first work to enter the collection (it has the accession number NG1), along with Raphael’s Pope Julius II; Rembrandt’s Woman Taken in Adultery; and some fine Claudes. Angerstein’s collection had fulfilled the government’s desire for ‘large pictures of eminence’, but instead of in a purpose-built gallery, they were displayed in three rooms of Angerstein’s former London home, 100 Pall Mall. In 1826 they were joined there by Beaumont’s own 16 pictures, a much smaller collection but one which contained several masterpieces: Canaletto’s excellent The Stonemason’s Yard; Rubens’ View of Het Steen (Beaumont considered Rubens ‘the Shakespeare of painting’); and, a reflection of the taste of the times, further Claude landscapes including Beaumont’s personal favourite, Landscape with Hagar and the Angel, which travelled with him whenever he left London for his country home. In face of public criticism of the National Gallery’s inadequate accommodation (100 Pall Mall was hardly the Louvre), the government agreed in 1831 to construct a building on the north side of the new Trafalgar Square, on the site of the old Royal Mews.


The Building

Built between 1833 and 1838 by William Wilkins, the building is dignified but somehow not imposing, its long façade punctuated with a central portico with Corinthian columns, a dome and further porticoes to east and west with column bases and capitals salvaged from the recently demolished Carlton House.

At first the National Gallery occupied only the west side of the new building, the Royal Academy having the east. But in 1868 the latter removed to Burlington House, allowing expansion for the gallery’s growing collection. In 1845 Robert Vernon had bequeathed his large collection of British works, followed in 1851 by J.M.W. Turner’s overwhelming bequest of over 1,000 of his own watercolours, drawings and oils. Both these collections had to be displayed elsewhere, at Marlborough House and then at the new South Kensington Museum. In 1871 the collection of the late Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel, came to the gallery, a distinguished assembly of mainly Dutch and Flemish pictures, including Hobbema’s supreme Avenue at Middelharnis, and Rubens’ Chapeau de Paille. Since its foundation—and particularly from 1855, with the appointment of Sir Charles Eastlake as Director—the gallery had also been making acquisitions of its own. Eastlake travelled throughout Italy purchasing important works, mainly early Italian ‘Primitives’.

A new east wing extension was added to the back of Wilkins’ building. Designed by E.M. Barry and completed in 1876, the suite of galleries was opulent and rich. Recently restored to their period glory, the central octagonal Rotunda (Room 36) has green Genoa marble columns, a coloured marble floor, walls of burgundy, green and blue, with white and gilded plasterwork and a domed ceiling of etched glass panels. Between 1885 and 1887 Sir John Taylor added further architecturally important spaces: the Central Hall, also recently restored to its Victorian splendour, with richly coloured Venetian wall fabric; and the grand Staircase Hall, an important Victorian space, originally with rich plasterwork, pink stone cladding and polychromatic decoration by J.D. Crace. At the time of writing the latter was closed for restoration, as was Wilkins’ Entrance Hall, allowing for only partial viewing of the four Boris Anrep Mosaic Pavements, commissioned in 1928–33. The foremost mosaicist working in Britain, Anrep’s themes were The Labours of Life (west vestibule, 1928), The Pleasures of Life (east vestibule, 1929) and The Awakening of the Muses (half-landing, 1933). Modern Virtues (north vestibule) followed later, in 1952. Portraits of famous British arts figures are incorporated, such as Augustus John (who appears as Neptune); Margot Fonteyn (Delectation); Edith Sitwell (Sixth Sense); and Bertrand Russell (Lucidity).

With the opening in 1897 of the National Gallery, Millbank, built with funds from the wealthy industrialist Sir Henry Tate for the display of British art (now Tate Britain) further space was released at Trafalgar Square, which was further added to in 1907–11 with new galleries behind Wilkins’ west wing; and the building of the Northern Extension in 1970–75. More recently, in 1991, the Sainsbury Wing was completed to designs by Venturi, Rauch and Scott, who won the commission after the original scheme, the winner of an architectural competition, was famously denounced by the Prince of Wales as a ‘monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much loved friend’. In a modern classical style which acknowledges Wilkins’ building, the new wing’s main feature is a giant, broad and tall staircase which rises from the entrance foyer up to the main gallery level, with views over Trafalgar Square. Below is the gallery’s main temporary exhibition space. The most recent architectural intervention is the new Getty entrance and foyer (Dixon/Jones 2004), which allows entry directly from Trafalgar Square, rather than up the main portico stairs. The sharp white staircase with glossy black wall cladding (a rather undistinguished, corporate look) leads to the main level.


Entrance to the National Gallery has always been free. Even during the Second World War, when the collection was removed for safety to old mining caves in Wales, one masterpiece per month was shown at the gallery, at risk in the capital alongside Londoners. During its evacuation, much scholarly study of the collection was undertaken, resulting in published catalogues which set the international standard. The National Gallery is too large to see in full at one visit. Below, ordered by date and school, are the major highlights, many of which are long-established favourites.

The Collection


1250–1500 (Sainsbury Wing; Rooms 51–66)

The early Renaissance collection is shown in the Sainsbury Wing, the elaborate architectural frames, rich colours and punched gold leaf of the pictures set off against pale grey walls. In the early years, collecting had concentrated on Italian high Renaissance pictures but by the mid-19th century it was felt that the gallery should aim to be a complete historical collection rather than a collection of select masterpieces. Reflecting the 19th-century taste for the Gothic, Giotto was set as the starting date, and early Italian, German and Netherlandish works were actively sought. The gallery’s first Director, Sir Charles Eastlake, travelled throughout Italy annually and was instrumental in acquiring major early Italian works, then known as ‘Primitives’, including a panel from Uccello’s Battle of San Romano. In 1863 Queen Victoria presented a collection of early Renaissance works.


Italy: Among the earliest works are Margarito of Arezzo’s 1260s Byzantine icon-like Virgin and Child (Room 52), the earliest Italian work in the collection, acquired by Eastlake to demonstrate ‘the rude beginnings’ from which Italian art grew; Giotto’s Pentecost (Room 52), one of seven panels from an altarpiece now scattered around the world; and Duccio’s Annunciation and Jesus Opens the Eyes of a Blind Man (Room 52), predella panels from his masterwork, the Maestà, the high altarpiece of Siena Cathedral, completed in 1311. Not Italian, but displayed with these pictures, is the outstanding Wilton Diptych (c. 1395; Room 53), the highpoint of painting to survive from medieval England. Possibly of French authorship, it shows Richard II being presented to the Virgin and Child, accompanied by St John, St Edmund and St Edward the Confessor.

Tuscan art 1400–50 (Room 54) includes Lorenzo Monaco’s brilliantly coloured Coronation of the Virgin (c. 1414); the only documented painting by Masaccio, the 1426 Virgin and Child, part of the altarpiece for the chapel of Santa Maria del Carmine, Pisa; works by Sassetta, one of Siena’s leading artists of the early 15th century; and Fra’ Angelico’s Christ Glorified in the Court of Heaven (before 1435), with its ranks of angels. Early Florentine works include Fra’ Filippo Lippi’s Annunciation, possibly part of bedchamber furniture from the Palazzo Medici, the dove hovering before the Virgin’s womb in a glittering holy sphere; Uccello’s Battle of San Romano (Room 55), also from the Palazzo Medici, showing the mercenary general Niccolò da Tolentino in a magnificent headdress, on a rearing white charger (the other two parts of this painting are in the Uffizi and the Louvre); St George and the Dragon, also by Uccello, the fierce dragon being speared at the entrance to his craggy cave; works by Botticelli (Rooms 57–58) including the Mystic Nativity, one of the gallery’s best-known works, showing the Virgin kneeling in adoration, with a circle of dancing angels above the stable; important pieces by Piero di Cosimo, who was ‘rediscovered’ in the second half of the 19th century; and Alesso Baldovinetti’s popular Portrait of a Lady in Yellow (Room 58), depicted in profile against a blue background, with black palm fronds embroidered on her sleeve.

A separate gallery (Room 59) displays late 15th-century works by Carlo Crivelli, including The Annunciation with St Emidius (1486), an astonishing exhibition of his skill. Later 15th-century works from Siena and Perugia include Giovanni di Paolo’s Scenes from the Life of St John the Baptist, the desert realised as tall, craggy mountains.

From Venice and the Veneto 1450–1500 are important works by Mantegna—who did his most important work for the Gonzaga court at Mantua—including the Agony in the Garden (Room 62), the slumbering apostles in the foreground with rabbits hopping on the road along which Judas conducts the Roman soldiers; Sicilian-born Antonello da Messina’s St Jerome in his Study (c. 1475–76; Room 62), a gentle work showing the saint at his desk surrounded by the paraphernalia of learning, a pet cat sitting by potted plants and his lion hovering in the shadows to the right; and works by the great Giovanni Bellini (Rooms 61–62), including the Madonna of the Meadows, and his famous portrait of Doge Leonardo Loredan, in an expensive gold and silver damask robe, prominent against a blue background.

Ferrarese and Milanese painting 1450–1500 includes works by the Este court artist Cosimo Tura, such as The Virgin and Child Enthroned (c. 1475–76), seated on an architecturally elaborate throne; and works by Pisanello (Room 55), better known as a medallist, whose few known paintings include the Virgin and Child and The Vision of St Eustace, illustrating the saint’s vision of a stag with a crucifix between its antlers, with much attention paid to the hunting dogs and other forest wildlife.

In a separate gallery (Room 66) are outstanding masterpieces by Piero della Francesca, who worked chiefly in his native Borgo Sansepolcro, Tuscany, and was recognised as a rare and extraordinary talent in the second half of the 20th century. The National Gallery has exceptional works by him, including the Baptism of Christ, a work of great delicacy, and The Nativity, an unfinished work allowing insight into his working methods.


The Netherlands and Germany: Unlike early Italian works which are painted in egg tempera, with a gradual shift towards oil as time progresses, early Netherlandish and German works are in oil on panel. The technique, in fact, is thought to have been brought from the Netherlands to Italy by Antonello da Messina. Important works in the collection include those by Robert Campin, active in Tournai in the early 15th century, including small devotional images; and penetrating portraits of a man and a woman, c. 1420–30, great observational pieces with sparkling eyes, one of the earliest surviving examples of a pair of portraits.

One of the greatest artists of his day was Jan van Eyck, who worked for Philip, Duke of Burgundy at Bruges. His outstanding work, already famous in the 16th century and today one of the most important of the National Gallery’s pictures, is his remarkable Arnolfini Portrait (Room 56), probably a marriage portrait, the couple standing in a well furnished room, their reflections seen in the round mirror in the background.

The outstanding Netherlandish painter of his time was Rogier van der Weyden, who worked in Brussels and probably for the Burgundian court. His beautiful Magdalen Reading (c. 1440–50; Room 56) has been cut down from a once large altarpiece. Dieric Bouts’ Entombment is one of the most important examples of his religious painting to survive. Exceptional works by Hans Memlinc (or Memling; Room 63) include the Donne Triptych (c. 1475), commissioned by the English patron Sir John Donne when in Bruges, and the peaceful Virgin and Child (c. 1475), possibly the central panel of a private devotional painting. Works by the leading Antwerp painter Quinten Massys (or Metsys) include the Virgin and Child Enthroned.

Early German works, from Cologne and Westphalia, include The Presentation in the Temple by the ‘Master of the Life of the Virgin’, whose name is unknown but who was one of the leading painters of Cologne; and fragments of the high altarpiece from the Benedictine Abbey of Liesborn, including the beautiful Annunciation, by the ‘Master of Liesborn’. Southern German painting includes The Painter’s Father (1497), by one of the greatest European artists of his age, Albrecht Dürer (Room 65).


1500–1600 (West Wing; Rooms 2–14)


Italy: The National Gallery’s Italian Renaissance collection is extensive and excellent. In the Gallery’s early years it was the trustees’ objective to purchase the best works by the outstanding artists, then identified as Titian, Correggio and Raphael. An astonishing number of masterpieces arrived at the Gallery throughout the 19th century. Central Hall (Room 10), at the heart of the Gallery, displays a selection of works by Titian and his contemporaries, although The Vendramin Family was purchased in 1929, and the late, freshly handled Diana and Actaeon not until 1972. Leonardo da Vinci’s great Virgin of the Rocks (c. 1508), the central panel for the altarpiece of the oratory of the Milanese Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception, and one of the gallery’s most renowned works, is displayed in Room 2, along with his large cartoon, The Virgin and Child with St Anne and St John the Baptist (c. 1499–1500), a large-scale preparatory drawing for a painting commissioned by Louis XII of France. Also in this room is Correggio’s Madonna of the Basket, in excellent condition, and his well known School of Love (c. 1525), purchased in 1824. Early 16th-century painting of Ferrara and Bologna, and the patronage of the Este dukes, is explored in Room 6, with works by Lorenzo Costa (A Concert, c. 1485–95) and Garofalo.

Room 8 contains major works by Florentine and Roman artists: Michaelangelo’s unfinished Entombment; Bronzino’s outstanding Allegory with Venus and Cupid, the ‘picture of singular beauty’ mentioned by Vasari in 1568; Raphael’s large Ansidei Madonna; his beautiful Mond Crucifixion and St Catherine of Alexandria, twisted towards the sky in a position of holy rapture; his important and influential portrait of Pope Julius II, an 1824 Angerstein foundation work; and the small and gentle Madonna of the Pinks, a controversial acquisition (for £22m) in 2004.

Room 9, a large barrel-vaulted room with restored plasterwork and gilding, showpieces the Gallery’s magnificent works by Veronese and Venetian artists, 1530–1600: Veronese’s four beautiful Allegories of Love, ceiling paintings commissioned either by the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II, or for a Venetian setting; his enormous and impressive Family of Darius before Alexander; and The Rape of Europa, which came to the gallery in 1831 and was highly esteemed in the 18th and 19th centuries. Also an 1831 purchase was Tinoretto’s St George and the Dragon, a typically roughly finished work, the dragon being speared on a savage rocky shore. Other important works include Tintoretto’s Origin of the Milky Way (1575–80) and Jacopo Bassano’s Purification of the Temple.

Probably the most famous Titian in the collection is Bacchus and Ariadne, purchased in 1826. It hangs in Room 10, with other important works by him (his early Noli me Tangere (c. 1515); Portrait of a Lady (‘La Schiavone’); and Portrait of a Man, the sitter’s head turned to the viewer, his elaborate silver-blue quilted sleeve filling the picture space). Other early 16th-century Venetian artists include Giorgione, Palma Vecchio and Sebastiano del Piombo, whose Raising of Lazarus, originally part of the Orleans collection but a casualty of revolutionary Europe, was the first work to enter the collection.

Northern Italian works include portraits by Moroni, Moretto da Brescia and Lorenzo Lotto, excellent pieces of realism including Lotto’s Portrait of a Lady inspired by Lucretia (c. 1530–32), and Giovanni Agostino della Torre and his son, Niccolo (1515), showing the 61 year-old doctor holding a work by the Greek physician Galen.


The Netherlands: The fine collection of 16th-century Netherlandish pictures can be seen in Rooms 5 and 14 including, in the latter, works by Jan Gossaert: Adam and Eve, with the serpent coiled in the branch of a tree at the top of the picture, nudging its head between the standing couple; his small-scale Little Girl, in an elaborately embroidered and jewelled dress, holding an armillary sphere; and his meticulous, tightly handled Adoration of the Kings (c. 1500–15), with angels hovering above the Virgin and Child, the kings bearing their costly gifts and dogs wandering across minutely observed cracked paving invaded by weeds. Room 5 has larger scale works. Important religious altarpieces by the distinguished Bruges painter Gerard David include Canon Bernardijn Salviati and Three Saints (c. 1501), the left hand shutter of a diptych, the goldsmith’s work of the croziers meticulously painted, with a beautiful landscape background; and The Virgin and Child with Saints and Donor, from the altar of St Catherine in the chapel of St Anthony in St Donatian’s, Bruges, a work of sophisticated splendour, painted in David’s rich, bright colours. Scenes from the Passion by the ‘Master of Delft’ is painted with an incredible minute clarity. Works by Quinten Massys, the leading Antwerp painter from 1491, include The Virgin and Child Enthroned, an early work; A Grotesque Old Woman, her wrinkled skin contrasting with her fine, revealing clothes; and The Virgin and Child with Saints, a rare survival of a cloth painting.


Germany: The collection of 16th-century Northern painting from the Protestant states of what are now Germany and Switzerland includes works by Cranach, Hans von Aachen and others, but is of particular note for its works by Holbein. The Ambassadors (Room 4), one of the National Gallery’s major masterpieces, dominates one wall. Painted in 1533 for Jean de Dinteville, French Ambassador at the court of Henry VIII, it shows Dinteville standing with Georges de Selve surrounded by objects symbolic of Humanist learning. The perspective of the distorted skull, bottom centre, is corrected when viewed from the right. The charming Lady with a Squirrel and a Starling (1526–28) has recently been identified as Anne Lovell, the animal and bird being a heraldic play on the Lovell arms and the family home at East Harling, Norfolk. Christina of Denmark (1538), depicting a prospective bride of Henry VIII, is a rare, early example of full-length portraiture.


1600–1700 (North Wing; Rooms 15–32)


Dutch Pictures: The large collection of 17th-century Dutch and Flemish works is largely the result of two major bequests, that of the late Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel in 1871, and the Wynn Ellis bequest of 1876. Vermeer and the painters of Delft and Leiden are hung in Rooms 16 and 17. Of the only 30 works known by Vermeer, the National Gallery has two, including the outstanding Young Woman Standing at a Virginal (c. 1670). Nearby is Pieter de Hooch’s Courtyard of a House in Delft (1658), with its carefully observed brickwork. Numerous works by Gerrit Dou, the principal artist of the Leiden fijnschilders (literally ‘fine painters’), are on show, including his Poulterer’s Shop (c. 1670), seen through a stone window, its produce of gamebirds and a hanging hare shown in a virtuoso performance of meticulous detail. Also on show is Hoogstraten’s Peepshow (c. 1655–60), a painted box with two viewing holes, through which the illusion of a three dimensional Dutch interior can be seen. From a black and white tiled floor a dog stares up at you, and through a doorway further rooms recede into the distance. On the other side a sleeping figure can be glimpsed in bed. Of such boxes to survive, this is the finest and most elaborate.

In Room 17a are Dutch flower and cabinet pieces: minutely observed and smoothly finished tulips by Bosschaert and van der Ast, and small landscapes by Roelandt Savery, including Orpheus (1628), playing his violin to an enraptured audience of flora and fauna. In Room 21 are works by Cuyp and the Dutch Italianate landscapists, most importantly Jan Both, who was in Rome in 1635–41, and the Haarlem artist Nicholas Berchem. Cuyp’s brilliant River Landscape with a Horseman and Peasants (c. 1658–60), suffused with a beautiful golden light, was bought by the Earl of Bute in the 1760s and is supposedly the picture that stimulated the admiration of Cuyp, and his landscapes populated by cows, among British collectors. Further panoramic and low-horizoned landscapes and marine pictures hang in Room 22: works by Jacob van Ruisdael, the most famous landscapist of his day, including A Road Winding between Trees (c. 1645–50), an important early work; Vessels in a Fresh Breeze (1660–65), the muddy water slapping against the jetty; and Landscape with a Ruined Castle and a Church (c. 1665–70), a famous work with light playing on the fields below scudding clouds. Hobbema’s Avenue at Middelharnis (1689), with its central avenues of trees receding into the distance, was formerly owned by Robert Peel and is one of the gallery’s best-loved works.

Room 23 is entirely devoted to Rembrandt. The National Gallery has a large collection of his works, both portraits and large scale biblical pictures, many of which were bequeathed or purchased in the 19th century. The Woman Taken in Adultery (1644), was one of Angerstein’s 1824 foundation works; the Lamentation over the Dead Christ was Beaumont’s; and the famous A Woman Bathing in a Stream (1654), probably Hendrickje Stoffels, who lived in Rembrandt’s household, came to the gallery in 1831. The important Belshazzar’s Feast (c. 1635), is an early attempt by Rembrandt to establish himself as a large scale history painter. He shows the moment when, having served wine in sacred vessels looted from the Temple in Jerusalem, Belshazzar observes the appearance of Hebrew script on a wall predicting the fall of his kingdom. Other key works include Saskia van Uylenburgh in Arcadian Costume (1635), Rembrandt’s wife shown a year after they married; Margaretha de Geer, wife of the wealthy merchant Jacob Trip; and Self Portrait at the age of 63, one of the last pictures Rembrandt painted.

The Dutch Caravaggists and the painters of Haarlem are shown in Room 25, including Hendrick ter Brugghen’s The Concert (c. 1626). Scenes of everyday life are in Rooms 26–27: interiors by Jan Steen and Gerard ter Borch, full of symbolism and moral comment; Thomas de Keyser’s excellent portrait of the ambassador and advisor to the Prince of Orange, Constantijn Huygens, surrounded by objects pointing to his intellectual and artistic interests; and townscapes redolent of the prosperity of the Dutch Golden Age.


Flemish Pictures: Early 17th-century cabinet-sized Flemish works are shown in Room 28: works by Jan Brueghel the Elder, including the meticulously detailed Adoration of the Kings; church interiors by Hendrick van Steenwyck and Brueghel; and tavern and brothel scenes by David Teniers (the most famous painter of such works) and Adriaen Brouwer. The large and impressive collection of works by the great Baroque artist Rubens is in Room 29. Many arrived at the gallery in the 19th century, including the Rape of the Sabine Women (1635–40), acquired in 1824; A View of Het Steen in the Early Morning, showing Rubens’ country estate purchased in 1635 (part of the Beaumont bequest); and the important Peace and War, painted when Rubens was in England on a diplomatic mission to negotiate peace with Spain (presented by the Duke of Sutherland in 1828). Other works produced for English patrons include the portrait of the celebrated art connoisseur Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel; an oil sketch for the allegorical ceiling painted for the Duke of Buckingham, destroyed in 1949; and, on long term loan, the Apotheosis of James I, a sketch for his famous Banqueting House ceiling. One of the most famous pictures in the National Gallery is Le Chapeau de Paille, part of the Peel collection purchased in 1871, the name of the picture dating back to the 18th century. Other important works include the early Samson and Delilah (c. 1609–10); and The Watering Place, a landscape which inspired Constable’s work of the same name.

Works by Rubens’ most famous pupil, van Dyck, are in Room 31. The collection is particularly rich in English period works, van Dyck being the most celebrated and influential artist working in Britain in the 17th century. The most important is the enormous Equestrian Portrait of Charles I (c. 1637–38), painted for the King whose official painter van Dyck was, and who knighted him for his services. George Gage with Two Attendants (1622–23), came with the Angerstein collection, but many of the more important works are relatively recent purchases: Lords John and Bernard Stuart (c. 1638), posed with a wonderful degree of confidence and flair, one of his English masterpieces, was purchased in 1988; and the excellent full-length Abbé Scaglia in 1999.


Italian Pictures: Room 32 contains great Italian works of the 17th century: Caravaggio’s early Supper at Emmaus (1601), and his late Salome Receives the Head of St John the Baptist, with theatrical, dramatic lighting and intense passion. In contrast is Annibale Carracci’s quieter, more mannerist work, such as The Dead Christ Mourned (‘The Three Maries’; c. 1604), one of his most powerful and emotionally charged works. The large collection of Guido Reni includes his elaborate Coronation of the Virgin (1607), and his well known Rape of Europa (before 1640), painted for King Wladislaw of Poland. Guercino, the great Bolognese Baroque artist, is well represented: the still and dignified Cumaean Sibyl with a Putto (1651), one of his finest works, is one of an important group on loan from the collection of the distinguished Italian Baroque scholar Sir Denis Mahon. Orazio Gentileschi’s large and imposing Finding of Moses is an important work executed in England in the 1630s when the artist was in the service of Charles I and his queen, Henrietta Maria.


French Pictures: Rooms 19 and 20 are dedicated to the two great French landscape artists Poussin and Claude. Both the foundation Angerstein and Beaumont collections contained Claude, reflecting the high esteem in which British collectors held his work. Landscape with Hagar and the Angel was Beaumont’s favourite picture. The gallery’s collection of his hugely influential, poetic classical landscapes, peopled by figures from classical mythology and the Bible, includes Seaport with the Embarkation of St Ursula, the view to the open sea bathed in a golden light; The Enchanted Castle (1664), which influenced Keats’s ‘Ode to a Nightingale’; and Landscape with Aeneas at Delos (1672). When J.M.W. Turner bequeathed his pictures to the nation he stipulated that two of them, Dido Building Carthage and Sun Rising through Vapour, were to be shown alongside two of Angerstein’s Claudes, Seaport with the Embarkation of the Queen of Sheba and Landscape with the Marriage of Isaac and Rebekah. They hang together in Room 15, the modern genius alongside the influential predecessor.

Excellent landscapes by Poussin include A Bacchanalian Revel before a Term, (1632–33); The Triumph of Pan (1636), commissioned by Cardinal Richelieu; Landscape with Travellers Resting (c. 1638–39), probably executed for his major Roman patron Cassiano del Pozzo; the brilliant Adoration of the Golden Calf (1633–34), made for Amadeo del Pozzo, Cassiano’s cousin; and the late, grand Finding of Moses (1651), purchased jointly with the National Museum of Wales in 1988 and shown alternately in London and Cardiff. Other French works are shown in Room 18, including Philippe de Champaigne’s full-length regal image of Cardinal Richelieu, one of several full-length variants; Mignard’s extraordinary Marquise de Seignelay and two of her Sons (1691), where the sitter is shown as the sea goddess Thetis, surrounded by exotic shells, with coral and pearls in her hair, an allusion to her husband’s post as head of the Admiralty.


Spanish Pictures: Religious works created in the service of the Counter Reformation, and other 17th-century Spanish pictures, are displayed in Room 30: the highly individual works of El Greco, including Christ Driving the Traders from the Temple (c. 1600); important works by Velázquez, expressing the dignity of the court of Philip IV, including the majestic 1630s full-length of the king, in a splendid costume with sparkling silver embroidery; and the exceptional Toilet of Venus (‘The Rokeby Venus’; c. 1647–51), the only surviving female nude by the artist, famously slashed by a suffragette in 1914. Zurburán’s St Francis in Meditation shows the kneeling saint with uncompromising realism, in a stark interior, his face partially hidden by the dramatic shadow cast by his hood. Murillo’s more gentle works, with their soft style and colouring (known as estilo vaporoso), include his Self Portrait, Peasant Boy Leaning on a Sill, and the sweet and gentle The Two Trinities (1681–82).


1700–1900 (East Wing; Rooms 33–46)


Italy: Rooms 38 and 39 show the relatively small collection of 18th-century Spanish and Italian works, including Goya’s Doña Isabel de Porcel (before 1805) and Canaletto’s excellent Stonemason’s Yard (Room 38), the latter from Beaumont’s collection. It was not until the late 19th century, however, that the foundations of a representative collection of 18th-century works were laid, with the acquisition of works by the great late Baroque artist Tiepolo and the ‘Venetian Hogarth’, Pietro Longhi, including the latter’s Exhibition of a Rhinoceros in Venice. Further Canalettos include excellent views of the Grand Canal, Venice, and The Rotunda at Ranelagh and Eton College, two English works. The gallery now has a large collection of works by both Giovanni Battista Tiepolo and his son Giandomenico, as well as works by Sebastiano Ricci.


British School: Although Tate Britain is the official home of British art, the National Gallery holds some supreme masterpieces of the British School. In the Rotunda (Room 36) are important full-length works including Sir Thomas Lawrence’s Queen Charlotte (1789–90), shown seated at Windsor Castle, in expensive pearls, with a view of Eton College chapel through the window; and Sargent’s excellent Lord Ribblesdale (1902), a former trustee of the National Gallery. Rooms 34 and 35 display the bulk of the British pictures: Hogarth’s important Marriage à la Mode series (Room 35), a moralising commentary on contemporary life, part of Angerstein’s collection; Gainsborough’s early Mr and Mrs Andrews, a genteel couple outdoors in their park; his full-length Mr and Mrs William Hallett (‘The Morning Walk’), a fashionable couple out strolling; Constable’s well-known Hay-Wain (Room 34), the quintessential image of the English countryside, as well as The Cornfield (1826), and The Cenotaph to Reynolds’ Memory, Coleorton. The latter had been erected in the grounds at Coleorton, Sir George Beaumont’s country home, in 1812. Stubbs’ monumental Whistlejacket, a great rearing, riderless horse against a stark background, is a relatively recent acquisition. Other pictures include Joseph Wright of Derby’s famous An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump (1768); Turner’s celebrated The Fighting ‘Temeraire’, tugged to her Last Berth to be broken up (1839) in Room 34; and his Rain, Steam and Speed—The Great Western Railway (before 1844).


France: The French 18th-century collection (Room 33) is small but includes some good pictures, notably Drouais’ portrait of Mme de Pompadour, shown seated, with her pet dog, in domestic but expensive surroundings, wearing an exquisitely embroidered dress (1763–64); and Elisabeth Vigée le Brun’s charming Self Portrait in a Straw Hat (after 1782), where she shows herself holding a palette and brushes.

French 19th-century Academy painting (Room 41) includes Paul Delaroche’s romanticised Execution of Lady Jane Grey; works by Géricault and Delacroix; and Ingres’ Mme Moitessier (1844–56), the wife of a wealthy banker, shown seated in her finery. The picture, with its extraordinary porcelain finish, took Ingres 12 years to complete.

No purchases of contemporary French works were made in the 19th century; it was not until the Sir Hugh Lane Bequest of 1917 that works by the great 19th-century French Impressionists were acquired. The gallery now has an excellent collection (Rooms 43–46) which includes several outstanding masterpieces: Manet’s Music in the Tuileries Gardens, and his Execution of Maximilian (1867–68), the latter the second version he painted of the execution by firing squad of Archduke Maximilian, younger brother of the Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria, who had been installed as Emperor of Mexico by Napoleon III but was captured and executed by Mexican forces after the withdrawal of French troops. The mutilated fragments of the picture were rescued and pieced together by Degas. Monet’s work (Room 43) includes Gare St-Lazare, (1877); The Water-Lily Pond (1879); The Beach at Trouville (1870) and The Thames below Westminster (1871). Seurat’s Bathers at Asnières, partly executed in his ‘pointillism’ technique, was acquired in 1924 through a fund established by Samuel Courtauld. Works by Pissarro include Boulevard Montmartre at Night (1897). Renoir’s supreme Les Parapluies is a Hugh Lane Bequest work, and his Boating on the Seine was formerly owned by Courtauld. Henri Rousseau’s Tiger in a Tropical Storm (‘Surprised!’; 1891), is the first of his over 20 jungle pictures.

The final decades of the 19th century are represented with works by Cézanne (Room 45): his Self-Portrait (c. 1880), Hillside in Provence (c. 1886–90), and his well known Bathers, ‘Les Grandes Baigneuses’, one of three large works of the same theme. Of van Gogh’s work (also Room 45) the gallery has one of his Sunflowers (1888), as well as Van Gogh’s Chair, painted at Arles in November 1888 when he was working in the company of Gauguin, and A Wheatfield with Cypresses, painted in September 1889 at the mental asylum at St-Rémy.

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Update from National Gallery


Without him”, said Monet, “We wouldn’t have survived.

This spring, the National Gallery presents the UK’s first major exhibition devoted to the man who invented Impressionism, Paul Durand-Ruel (1831-1922). An entrepreneurial art dealer, Durand-Ruel discovered and unwaveringly supported the Impressionist painters and is now considered a founding father of the international art market as we know it today.

Inventing Impressionism
includes around 85 works, among them a number of Impressionism’s greatest masterpieces which have never been seen in the UK before. These pictures - the vast majority of which were dealt by Durand-Ruel - are borrowed from the key European and American collections he helped form, as well as from Japan.

This ground-breaking exhibition lifts the veil on the pivotal figure that discovered Monet, Pissarro, Degas and Renoir in the early 1870s, immediately buying their works when they were still largely ignored or ridiculed. Loyal friend and advocate of the Impressionists, regularly supporting them financially and morally, the dealer became the group’s most courageous backer during its early decades of struggle, dedicating his entire life to making the creative journey of the Impressionists a success story. Paul Durand- Ruel was 89-years old when he declared: “At last the Impressionist masters triumphed … My madness had been wisdom. To think that, had I passed away at sixty, I would have died debt-ridden and bankrupt, surrounded by a wealth of underrated treasures…

With great artistic flair and extraordinary commercial insight, Durand-Ruel developed revolutionary business strategies, such as stock building, exclusivity, and one-man shows of ‘his’ artists. He turned his Paris-based business into a global firm, opening branch galleries in London, Brussels and New York, staging countless exhibitions around the world and reversing the fortunes of the Impressionists. Despite rejection from the art establishment, the visionary Durand-Ruel was the single most powerful driving force making Impressionism the household name worldwide it is today and one of painting’s best-loved movements.

Between 1891 and 1922, Paul Durand-Ruel purchased around 12,000 pictures, including more than 1,000 Monets, approximately 1,500 Renoirs, more than 400 by Degas and as many Sisleys and Boudins, about 800 Pissarros, close to 200 Manets and nearly 400 Mary Cassatts.

  Durand-Ruel was introduced to Monet and Pissarro in London in 1870-71, when they were taking refuge from the Franco-Prussian War and the Commune. Durand-Ruel was enchanted by their works, often painted outdoors, in the parks, suburbs and on the banks of the Thames. He soon bought their paintings, exhibiting them in London between 1870 and 1874, in the gallery he opened in Mayfair. Inventing Impressionism will present a series of rarely-seen portraits of the dealer and his children painted by Renoir and exhibited in the UK for the first time. Other highlight paintings will include no less than five paintings from Monet’s Poplars series, which Durand-Ruel exhibited together as a group for the first time in 1892 and will be exceptionally reunited in London. All three of Renoir’s famous Dances, which have not been seen together in this country since 1985 - The Dance at Bougival from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Dance in the Country and Dance in the City from the Musée d’Orsay - will also be included in the exhibition. Beyond his work as a dealer and gallery owner, Durand-Ruel also assembled a personal collection of paintings which he exhibited in his apartment where he often welcomed visitors, as it allowed him to showcase the work of the Impressionists in a more domestic and intimate setting. One of the apartment’s panelled doors, which Monet adorned with lavish still lives of flowers and fruits, will be reconstructed exclusively for Inventing Impressionism. This arresting object will be displayed alongside masterpieces from the dealer’s private collection.

The exhibition follows the key events of Paul Durand-Ruel’s career in a broadly chronological order; these are intrinsically linked with the rise to fame of the Impressionist painters. The first three rooms focus on his home, his early career as an art dealer and the links he created with mid-19th century Realist artists, and the soon-to-be-called Impressionists. Rooms 4 to 6 concentrate on the strategies used by Durand-Ruel to promote and establish the Impressionists and on the struggles he faced.

The culmination of Inventing Impressionism evokes an exhibition Durand-Ruel organised in London in 1905, at the Grafton Galleries, which has remained to this day the largest show of Impressionist paintings ever attempted anywhere. Durand-Ruel presented a staggering 315 paintings. The exhibition was the dealer’s last major effort in a campaign that had begun in London 30 years earlier, and reflected the dealer’s now established position in the art world.

The exhibition is organised by the National Gallery, London, the Réunion des Musées Nationaux – Grand Palais in partnership with the Musée d’Orsay, and by the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Exhibition Curators: Sylvie Patry, Chief Curator at the Musée d’Orsay, Anne Robbins, Christopher Riopelle, Curators at the National Gallery, London, Jennifer A. Thompson, Joseph J. Rishel, Curators at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. With the help of the Durand-Ruel Archives for research.

Inventing Impressionism: Paul Durand-Ruel and the Modern Art Market
Edited by Sylvie Patry
With contributions by Anne Robbins, Christopher Riopelle, Joseph J.Rishel, Jennifer A. Thompson, Flavie Durand-Ruel and Paul-Louis Durand-Ruel
PLC £35 ISBN 978 1 85709 584 5
Paperback £19.95 ISBN 978 1 85709 5852
Published by National Gallery Company
Distributed by Yale University Press

Opening hours
Press View: 3 March 2015 (10.30 – 1.30pm)
Open to public: 4 March 2015
Daily 10am–6pm (last admission 5pm)
Fridays 10am–9pm (last admission 8.15pm)

Enter by the Sainsbury Wing Entrance.
Full price £18.00
Senior/Concession/Disabled visitors (carers FREE) £14.00
Job seeker/Student/Art Fund/12–18s £8.00
Under 12s (ticket required) FREE
Concessions Season £14.00
Job seeker/Art Fund/Student Season £9.00
Members go free

Tickets go on sale week commencing 15 December 2014.
For advance tickets to Inventing Impressionism please visit www.nationalgallery.org.uk or call 0800 912 6958 (booking fee). You can also book tickets by post and in person from the Gallery.
Overseas customers can contact us by dialling +44 (0)20 7126 5573.

For further information, please contact Alexandra Moskalenko at Alexandra.moskalenko@ng-london.org.uk 020 7747 2596 or the National Gallery Press Office on 020 7747 2865 or email press@ng-london.org.uk

Publicity images can be obtained from press.ng-london.org.uk.

For public enquiries, please contact 020 7747 2885 or information@ng-london.org.uk

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Details below are taken from our Blue Guide Museums and Galleries of London.  This is a 2005 title, here generally updated for website address and opening times, with useful comments from some of the museums themselves.  More recent information is given in Emily Barber's magisterial new Blue Guide London, "Exceptional update to a classic and useful guide to this amazing city" (Amazon reader review).

FULL LISTING of CURRENT EXHIBITIONS in London from Apollo Magazine »

Emily Barber recommends five major London museums »

Please do share your comments and updates with us via the form below the entry for each museum.


National Maritime Museum
Wimbledon Windmill Museum
Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum
2 Willow Road (National Trust)
William Morris Gallery
Whitechapel Gallery
Westminster Abbey Museum
Wesley's Chapel
Wellington Arch (English Heritage)
Wallace Collection
Victoria & Albert Museum
Tower Bridge Exhibition
Tower of London (Historic Royal Palaces)
Tate Modern
Tate Britain
Sutton House (National Trust)
Spencer House
Southside House
South London Art Gallery
The Courtauld Institute of Art (Somerset House)
Sir John Soane's Museum
Shakespeare’s Globe
Serpentine Gallery
Science Museum
St Bride’s Crypt Museum
St Bartholomew’s Hospital Museum
Saatchi Gallery
Royal Society of Arts
The Royal Mews
Royal London Hospital Museum
The Faraday Museum
Royal Hospital Chelsea
RCM Museum of Music
Royal Academy of Music Museum
Royal Academy of Arts
Red House (National Trust)
Ranger’s House (English Heritage)
Ragged School Museum
The Queen’s Gallery
Prince Henry’s Room
The Photographers’ Gallery
Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology
Osterley Park (National Trust)
Orleans House Gallery
Old Operating Theatre, Museum and Herb Garret
Natural History Museum
National Portrait Gallery
National Gallery
National Army Museum
Musical Museum
World Rugby Museum
Museum of the Order of St John
Museum No. 1 (Royal Botanic Gardens)
Museum of London
Garden Museum
Museum in Docklands (Museum of London)
The Royal Observatory
The Queen's House
Old Royal Naval College
Marianne North Gallery (Royal Botanic Gardens)
Marble Hill House (English Heritage)
Mall Galleries
Lord’s Tour and MCC Museum
London Transport Museum
London Fire Brigade Museum
London Canal Museum
18 Stafford Terrace – The Sambourne Family Home
Library and Museum of Freemasonry
Leighton House
Kingston Museum
Kew Palace (Historic Royal Palaces)
London Museum of Water & Steam
Kenwood House (English Heritage)
Kensington Palace (Historic Royal Palaces)
Keats House
Jewish Museum
Jewel Tower (English Heritage)
Jerwood Space
Imperial War Museum
ICA Institute of Contemporary Arts
Hunterian Museum
Horniman Museum
HMS Belfast (Imperial War Museum)
Hayward Gallery
Handel House Museum
Hampton Court Palace (Historic Royal Palaces)
Ham House (National Trust)
Guildhall Art Gallery
Guards Museum
Grant Museum of Zoology & Comparative Anatomy
Geffrye Museum of the Home
Fulham Palace
Freud Museum
Foundling Museum
Forty Hall & Estate
Florence Nightingale Museum
Firepower: The Royal Artillery Museum
Fenton House (National Trust)
Fashion and Textile Museum
Fan Museum
Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art
Eltham Palace (English Heritage)
Dulwich Picture Gallery
Dr Johnson’s House
Dennis Severs' House
Danson House
Cutty Sark
Contemporary Applied Arts
Chiswick House (English Heritage)
Chelsea Physic Garden
Chartered Insurance Institute Museum
Charles Dickens Museum
Carlyle’s House (National Trust)
Camden Arts Centre
Cabinet War Rooms & Churchill Museum (Imperial War Museum)
Burgh House - The Hampstead Museum
Buckingham Palace
Brunel Engine House
Brunei Gallery SOAS
British Optical Association Museum
The British Museum
The British Library
Bramah Museum of Tea and Coffee
Black Cultural Archives
Museum of Childhood (Victoria & Albert Museum)
Bethlem Museum of the Mind
Benjamin Franklin House
Ben Uri Gallery - The London Jewish Museum of Art
Barbican Art Gallery
Banqueting House (Historic Royal Palaces)
Bankside Gallery
Bank of England Museum
All Hallows Undercroft Museum
Alexander Fleming Laboratory Museum




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