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Michelangelo died #OnThisDay in 1564. Painter, sculptor and architect, writer of sonnets, he was the first artist recogn...
18/02/2021

Michelangelo died #OnThisDay in 1564. Painter, sculptor and architect, writer of sonnets, he was the first artist recognised by contemporaries as a genius. 'The Manchester Madonna' is probably the earliest of Michelangelo’s surviving paintings. It is unfinished – the black modelling of the Virgin Mary’s cloak has not had its final coats of blue, and the angels to the left have barely been begun. We don't know why the picture was never completed. The Virgin sits on a rock with the Christ Child and young John the Baptist next to her. Angels stand on either side – we can make out the two on the left only by the lines drawn in to mark out the folds in their clothes and by the areas of greenish underpainting traditionally used to balance the pinkish flesh tones that would be painted over them: https://bit.ly/3oGIhwO
Immerse yourself in the extraordinary artistic friendship between two great Renaissance masters: Michelangelo and Sebastiano del Piombo with our past exhibition catalogue: https://bit.ly/3rfMQjr

Could 'A Woman bathing in a Stream' be Rembrandt's lover? Why did he choose this setting? Join Bart, our Curator of Dutc...
17/02/2021

Could 'A Woman bathing in a Stream' be Rembrandt's lover? Why did he choose this setting? Join Bart, our Curator of Dutch and Flemish Paintings, as he offers some answers in our latest 10 minute talk: https://bit.ly/2Zhcloq

This video is with thanks to Nikon, our Digital Content Partner.

David Teniers painted caricatures in imaginary landscapes, a background to his comic characters. Here, three men stand f...
16/02/2021

David Teniers painted caricatures in imaginary landscapes, a background to his comic characters. Here, three men stand facing each other in a circle. One reaches into an inner pocket and looks with a shifty half-smile at the man in the blue coat, whose straight back hints at a military background. The old man on the left leans heavily on his stick, but the jaunty feather in his cap implies that he isn’t as feeble as he appears. They resemble traditional characters from the ancient Greek comedy that still existed in the form of the Italian commedia dell’arte: Harlequin, the trickster; Pantalone, old and doddery but with his wits about him; and the Captain, a show-off and a coward at heart. And the man running away is a Zanne, an acrobat who would enthusiastically whack people with a slapstick before disappearing at the first sign of trouble: https://bit.ly/3r8VoIU

We know this gentleman’s name – Giovanni Cristoforo Longoni – from the letter he holds, which is addressed to him. His l...
15/02/2021

We know this gentleman’s name – Giovanni Cristoforo Longoni – from the letter he holds, which is addressed to him. His left hand lies flat on the marble parapet before him, drawing attention to his rings, which may indicate his wealth or official status. The format of the portrait, with its landscape background with a river running through it, was popularised in Italy by the works of southern Netherlandish painter, Hans Memling. But it also reflects the innovations of Leonardo da Vinci, who had spent several years working in Andrea Solario’s hometown of Milan, particularly in the sombre and somewhat mysterious landscape with its blue-grey tones. The Latin inscription on the parapet translates as ‘You know not what sort of person you were or will be; devote much time to an earnest effort to see what sort of person you are’, suggesting the portrait intends to examine Longoni’s image and his soul. Zoom into the details of this painting by Andrea Solario: https://bit.ly/3r8GXo8

Happy Valentine's Day! ❤️ Let's celebrate by looking at a pair of our painted lovers in the collection: William Hallett ...
14/02/2021

Happy Valentine's Day! ❤️ Let's celebrate by looking at a pair of our painted lovers in the collection: William Hallett and Elizabeth Stephen. Thomas Gainsborough painted this portrait of the couple shortly before their marriage on 30 July 1785. The couple are shown arm-in-arm on a morning walk with a Pomeranian sheepdog. Bride and groom were both 21 when they married, and may be wearing their wedding clothes. Some have seen the portrait as a universal statement about wedded bliss and Hallett’s will records that he lived with Elizabeth ‘most happily for nearly 48 years’. However, Elizabeth’s life can't have been easy as betting and gambling were to be her husband’s downfall. They had two sons and four daughters, and when they died Elizabeth and William Hallett were buried in the church where they had been married: https://bit.ly/2JyQkcG

Monet was in his early twenties when he painted this view across the breakwaters to the headland of La Hève, near Sainte...
13/02/2021

Monet was in his early twenties when he painted this view across the breakwaters to the headland of La Hève, near Sainte-Adresse on the Normandy coast. He knew the area well, as he had spent his childhood in nearby Le Havre. The picture was probably made on the spot as a study for a larger studio painting. The empty shingle beach has a wintry, desolate air. Three figures in a boat rowing towards us are wrapped up against the cold, and smoke rises from the chimney of the cottage on the cliff. In the distance sailing boats race along the horizon, their dark sails set against the glimmer of sunlight below the bank of grey cloud. The crisp dabs of paint suggesting pebbles on the beach and broad flat brushstrokes surrounding the boat hint at the future direction of Monet’s art: https://bit.ly/30VcltD

Our games and puzzles make a great indoor distraction to help pass the time during the lockdown. It takes a lot of atten...
12/02/2021

Our games and puzzles make a great indoor distraction to help pass the time during the lockdown. It takes a lot of attention and focus during your spare time and lets you share some fun with others. If you are really ready for a challenge, you could be tempted to rediscover Van Gogh's masterpiece 'Sunflowers' with our 500 piece jigsaw. We also have micro jigsaws with images of well-known paintings from our collection. Otherwise, liven up your time at home with a trip around London's famous Underground with our ‘Mind The Gap’ card game. Shop online here: https://bit.ly/3pGkG0N
In these unprecedented times, with the Gallery temporarily closed, we are relying on the generosity of your support more than ever. Thank you.

This is a view of Lake Thun on the River Aare in the Berner Oberland (Bernese Highlands), Switzerland. Raised near Lake ...
11/02/2021

This is a view of Lake Thun on the River Aare in the Berner Oberland (Bernese Highlands), Switzerland. Raised near Lake Geneva, Alexandre Calame knew the Swiss landscape well and soon became the leading Swiss landscape artist of his generation. Demand for his paintings was fuelled by the growing popularity of Switzerland, particularly the Alps, as a destination for tourists who especially valued the landscape’s restorative effects. Completed in 1854, the painting shows a tranquil lake. The slight browning of some of the foliage suggests it may be late summer or early autumn. Calame painted the natural world with an almost scientific precision. He mostly used small precise brushstrokes to produce an extremely smooth picture surface that complements the calm water of the lake and the clarity of the pearly light: https://bit.ly/2WanKWD

With a glance, a lifted hand, the turn of a head, the artist has made a picture that invites interpretation. This was su...
10/02/2021

With a glance, a lifted hand, the turn of a head, the artist has made a picture that invites interpretation. This was such a popular composition at the time that several copies were made of Caspar Netscher’s original (now in the Die Pinakotheken). This is one of the copies. Pictures of musicians playing were enjoyed in the seventeenth-century Netherlands. They were in part purely decorative, but often also seem to hold moments of titillation, showing opportunities for flirtation. They may perhaps, because of the musical setting, also represent the harmony of love. Whatever their original purpose, they invite interpretation, story-making and discussion: https://bit.ly/3r92fC6

This painting is a strange fiction: roses and tulips, lilac and snake’s head lilies, aren't all in bloom at the same tim...
09/02/2021

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 flourished in the Dutch Republic at this time. As in this painting, art and science often went hand in hand. Artists began to use the newly invented microscope to enable them to paint in accurate detail plants and insects – like the butterfly, the cricket and the wasp zooming down to the fallen rose petals. What Balthasar van der Ast paints is so realistic that the objects are almost tangible. In one way they are presented as scientific specimens, but in another as an unfading vision of nature that could never have existed in reality: https://bit.ly/3bTP03S

08/02/2021
Restoring the Gallery's oldest painting | National Gallery

Tuscan artist Margarito d’Arezzo’s Virgin and Child Enthroned is the oldest painting in the National Gallery Collection, dating back to 1263-4.

Assistant Conservator Kristina Mandy shows the steps involved in restoring a painting that is over 750-years-old.

Our sale continues this month with lots of great deals on iconic prints, stationery, books or exhibition gifts. Start yo...
07/02/2021

Our sale continues this month with lots of great deals on iconic prints, stationery, books or exhibition gifts. Start your shopping online here: https://bit.ly/3p2xX2T
While the Gallery is temporarily closed, we rely on the generosity of your support more than ever. Thank you.

This is a picture of an idealised city square, carefully painted to make sure that the perspectives, proportions and the...
06/02/2021

This is a picture of an idealised city square, carefully painted to make sure that the perspectives, proportions and the effects of light and shade make it look as realistic as possible. Dirck van Delen specialised in painting buildings and imaginary architectural views, and the attention to such details is typical of his work. This was a popular genre and the architectural styles of the classical world and buildings of the Italian Renaissance were very fashionable. The figures were added by another artist, probably either Anthonie Palamedesz. or Jan Olis. Dressed in expensive, fashionable clothes, they parade elegantly around this grand stage, stepping out from behind columns, doors and archways, and gazing down from the windows. They are an idealised society, populating an idealised city. Just one, in the centre foreground, catches our eye: perhaps he, at least, is real, a portrait of a friend or the man who commissioned the painting. https://bit.ly/38Z69Hm

Giovanni Battista Moroni died #OnThisDay in 1578. 'The Tailor' is one of Moroni’s most famous paintings. The dress and t...
05/02/2021

Giovanni Battista Moroni died #OnThisDay in 1578. 'The Tailor' is one of Moroni’s most famous paintings. The dress and the style of the painting suggest that he made it late in his career, around 1570. The cloth merchant or tailor looks up at us, interrupted from his work. His cream and red costume contrasts with the black fabric marked with chalk lines that he is preparing to cut. He wears a sword belt, denoting high status, and his clothes are those of a successful professional rather than an artisan; he may have been a senior officer of a guild, proud to be portrayed at his work. The portrait appears to capture a fleeting moment, like a snapshot, giving it a startling vitality and psychological realism highly unusual for the time. The immediacy and vividness of this portrait may be partly due to Moroni’s method of painting directly from life without making preliminary drawings: https://bit.ly/23pnfBu

Catharina van Hemessen is the earliest female Flemish painter for whom verifiable work survives – we can see her name he...
04/02/2021

Catharina van Hemessen is the earliest female Flemish painter for whom verifiable work survives – we can see her name here in a Latin inscription in the top right corner. We don't know who the sitter was, but she was evidently wealthy. Her shirt, visible at her neck and wrists, is ornamented with black embroidery; the bodice of her dress is dark grey corded and watered silk; and her sleeves seem to be red velvet. Her glove is decorated with black embroidery and golden ornaments. Her belt is made of gold and black beads, and black cylinders with gold ends. A small dog with what seem to be bells on its collar is perched rather insecurely under her arm. Portraits of women with pet animals were quite common in the sixteenth century: https://bit.ly/2HewkeW

The unknown young man in the portrait looks out gravely but with the hint of a smile about his mouth. He wears garments ...
03/02/2021

The unknown young man in the portrait looks out gravely but with the hint of a smile about his mouth. He wears garments fashionable in 1657, the year the painting was made: a flat lace collar, the two ends of the stock that ties it peeping out below, and multiple buttons down the coat, left undone a little way to allow his silk shirt to protrude. A little more unusually, the seam of the coat sleeve is also open to display the body of his shirt. He has a cloak flung casually over his left arm. Little is known of the artist, Abraham Raguineau, except that he is likely to have lived in the Dutch town of ’s-Hertogenbosch: https://bit.ly/3bRddb4

The stretch of water in the foreground almost certainly lies near to Charles-François Daubigny’s home in Auvers-sur-Oise...
02/02/2021

The stretch of water in the foreground almost certainly lies near to Charles-François Daubigny’s home in Auvers-sur-Oise. Its surface is covered with vegetation, including clumps of reeds and water-lilies. A woman in a red and white hat sits at the far side, under a clump of alders. This is an evening scene, with pink touches in the sky close to the horizon at the left. The painting is closely related to a number of other compositions by the artist, all dated 1873 and repetitions of this view. Daubigny built up this painting in multiple layers, often applying the paint wet-in-wet, and using a variety of painterly techniques. In some areas he added texture to the paint surface with short, evenly spaced parallel lines – for example in the pink cloud, left of centre. These lines may have been created with a graining comb: https://bit.ly/3oafq41

01/02/2021
Picture of the month: View of Oudewater

The 19th-century artist, Willem Koekkoek, painted several views of the town of Oudewater, situated between Utrecht and Gouda, in the Netherlands. February's picture of the month is a slow look at one of his views': https://bit.ly/3qJwqzK
This video is with thanks to Nikon, our Digital Content Partner

This picture is one of five portraits painted by Dirck Santvoort of the daughters of the Spiegel family showing the girl...
31/01/2021

This picture is one of five portraits painted by Dirck Santvoort of the daughters of the Spiegel family showing the girls as personifications of the five senses. Here, the four-year-old Geertruyt Spiegel represents Touch and holds a finch that pecks her finger. Santvoort, a friend of Rembrandt, specialised in portraits of children. He could be a rather stiff painter, but in this picture he seems relaxed, charmed by the little girl. Her family’s wealth is evident in her fine clothes, the pearls in her hair and her gold jewellery, but what catches the eye is her open gaze and amusement at the bird’s antics. She too is a bird-like creature, a child of nature. Finches, and the goldfinch in particular, were a traditional emblem of the soul, especially in Renaissance painting, so one wonders if there was a reason her parents chose the bird for Geertruyt. Perhaps she had a soulful personality, or perhaps she kept one of the birds as a pet: https://bit.ly/3bTpY4Z

Born in Venice in 1722, Bernardo Bellotto had a precocious talent. He received his earliest training with his uncle, the...
30/01/2021

Born in Venice in 1722, Bernardo Bellotto had a precocious talent. He received his earliest training with his uncle, the celebrated view painter Canaletto, from about 1735 onwards, and was accepted into the Fraglia dei Pittori (Venetian painters’ guild) at the age of just 16. He painted 'The Fortress of Königstein from the North' between 1756-8 and here he has applied the traditions of Venetian view painting – a high level of detail, the large scale – to this northern landscape. It is one of the five views of Königstein commissioned from Bellotto by King Augustus III of Poland in 1756. Bellotto has treated the crumbling stone walls with miniaturist precision: each window and scaffolding pole is highlighted, and soldiers created with just a few dots of paint stand guard on the ramparts. This minute observation is combined with a broad panorama. Soft sunlight picks out the men in a grassy glade and a woman with her children while, a little higher, a slice of intense light illuminates the livestock perched on a craggy ledge and a horseman descending into the valley beyond: https://bit.ly/2h2CP6M

29/01/2021
A structural repair of Rubens's Het Steen | National Gallery

Following the cleaning of Rubens's 'Het Steen', the next stage in the painting's journey was a structural repair of the panel. How will Conservator and panel specialist Britta New meet the challenge of repairing this fragile panel which has survived centuries' worth of restorations and one very severe frost? Find out as we go behind the scenes: https://bit.ly/3oo0zmh
This video is with thanks to Nikon, our Digital Content Partner

Torrential rain in autumn 1896 caused extensive flooding near Monet’s home in Giverny. The river Epte, a tributary of th...
28/01/2021

Torrential rain in autumn 1896 caused extensive flooding near Monet’s home in Giverny. The river Epte, a tributary of the Seine, burst its banks and overflowed into the meadow next to Monet’s garden. Obliged to remain close to home, Monet painted the view of the waterlogged landscape that he saw in front of him, including the row of pollarded willows that stood on the edge of the meadow. The tree branches are brushed in with fine, rapid strokes and fluid sweeps of soft colour in the sky and the water reveal his interest in atmospheric harmony. The picture appears to be unfinished, and may have been painted on the spot. The canvas has been left bare in areas at the top and bottom, adding to the impression that it is a quickly made sketch: https://bit.ly/38YFBGq

Hendrick Avercamp was baptised #OnThisDay in 1585. In the seventeenth century the Little Ice Age settled over Northern E...
27/01/2021

Hendrick Avercamp was baptised #OnThisDay in 1585. In the seventeenth century the Little Ice Age settled over Northern Europe. Rivers and canals in Holland froze over and people took to the ice for work, leisure – and accidents. Hendrik Avercamp, just starting out as an artist, took to it too. His life’s work became the depiction of winter scenes full of incident with the people he knew and had grown up with as his characters. Under the grey light of a winter’s day, they continued their lives almost unchanged – they did business, gossiped, tended children, had fun – but sped up on skates. Avercamp’s painting is one to explore. Endless stories and character sketches are there for the curious eye to discover: people playing kolf, forerunner of golf; an old man on a chair, thought to personify winter. Over all is the flag of the newly independent Dutch Republic, to be regarded by the Dutch owner of the picture with pride: https://bit.ly/2XUurfz

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