A case of ‘mirror mania’ – Van Eyck and the Pre-Raphaelites

A case of ‘mirror mania’ – Van Eyck and the Pre-Raphaelites

When the National Gallery acquired Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait (1434) in 1842, it was the only pristine example of early Netherlandish painting from this period in their collection. Van Eyck had also been erroneously credited as the inventor of oil painting, a sixteenth-century myth invented by Giorgio Vasari in Italy and perpetuated by Karel [...]

‘My dearest compare’: Michelangelo & Sebastiano

‘My dearest compare’: Michelangelo & Sebastiano

‘All the discords that arose between Pope Julius and me were owing to the envy of Bramante and Raphael of Urbino […] And Raphael had good reason to be envious, since what he knew of art he learnt from me.’ (Michelangelo from Rome to an unknown addressee, October-November 1542) What do you get when you [...]

3-2-C: The National Gallery, London

3-2-C: The National Gallery, London

Everyone thinks they know the National Gallery, especially art historians and enthusiasts. They look at Hans Holbein the Younger’s The Ambassadors (1533), Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait (1434), and Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers (1888), thinking they’ve seen it all. On the odd occasion, they might view Titian’s Bacchus and Ariadne (1520-23) or Caravaggio’s The Supper [...]

Looking at architecture in a new light – Building the Picture at the National Gallery

Looking at architecture in a new light – Building the Picture at the National Gallery

Dear readers. How often do you look carefully at the buildings portrayed in paintings? How many times have you focused on the painted surroundings more than the figures in the image? For the majority of you, “very little” is likely to be your response. Building the Picture attempts to reverse this, forcing us to look [...]

A Sunflower reunion

A Sunflower reunion

Drawing many a crowd to one of London’s busiest squares, two world-famous paintings by none other than the Dutch Impressionist Vincent van Gogh have been reunited in Room 46 of the National Gallery for the first time in 65 years. The reunion was made possible by the friendship between the National Gallery and the Van [...]

“This is not painting, it is magic that casts a spell on people who see it” – Veronese at the National Gallery

“This is not painting, it is magic that casts a spell on people who see it” – Veronese at the National Gallery

If there was only one word to describe the works in this exhibition, it would be this: big. The National Gallery’s Veronese: Magnificence in Renaissance Venice brings together 50 paintings by the wonderful Paolo Veronese in the UK’s first ever monographic exhibition of the artist. And boy, did they do an impressive job! Unfaithfulness and [...]

Modern portraiture – the Old and the New Viennese

Modern portraiture – the Old and the New Viennese

Vienna, also known as the City of Music, was an area where many great composers found their place in musical history, icons such as Mozart, Brahms and Mahler. Theatres and opera houses filled the city with world-class music, attracting tourists and immigrants from across the Empire. During the years of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (1867-1918), Vienna [...]

Vermeer and the role of music

Vermeer and the role of music

I assume many of us are familiar with Johannes Vermeer’s painterly masterpiece entitled Girl with a Pearl Earring (c. 1665), on display at the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshius in The Hague, the Netherlands. Well, unfortunately, the National Gallery’s latest exhibition doesn’t have anything to do with this painting, but it draws on a theme that [...]

Birth of a Collection: Masterpieces from the Barber Institute of Fine Arts

Birth of a Collection: Masterpieces from the Barber Institute of Fine Arts

Established in 1932 by Dame Martha Constance Hattie Barber – known simply as Lady Barber – and Henry Barber, the Barber Institute of Fine Arts is a research and partnership institute with a mission to “promote the study and encouragement of art and music for the benefit of the University of Birmingham and the wider [...]

Michael Landy – where creation meets destruction, where the old meets the new

Michael Landy – where creation meets destruction, where the old meets the new

Recently, the National Gallery has become a little bit more…noisy. Queues of people are lining up in the Central Hall surrounded by 16th century Northern Italian paintings, while others exit into the Spanish room where Velázquez’s ‘Rokeby Venus’ (1646-51) resides. Something’s happening in the Sunley Room, and this time, Michael Landy takes centre stage. Michael [...]