National Gallery, London

4.5 out of 5 stars 4.5 Stars - 125 Reviews

Trafalgar Square, WC2 0 20 7747 2885

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  • The National Gallery
    The National Gallery
    by SallyM
  • The National gallery.
    The National gallery.
    by londontraveller01
  • National gallery.
    National gallery.
    by londontraveller01
  • breughel's Profile Photo

    Best of, if you are short in time.

    by breughel Updated Apr 2, 2014

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Constable
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    I'm sad to see that one of the five best painting museums in EU is only on position 25 among the things to do in London according to VT!
    "De gustibus et coloribus non est disputandum".

    ============================

    To visit the 70 rooms of the National Gallery needs a whole day. Even a museum freak like me gets tired after a few hours, not only the attention but also the legs.
    Last year I visited again the NG and noted what were for me the highlights of the museum so as to propose a "best of" for a 2 - 3 hours visit. Of course my highlights result of my own taste. It should be said that I am less enthusiast about religious and mythological subjects, maybe because I have seen too many!

    My visit follows the chronological order so that I enter by the Sainsbury wing, level 2 with the 13th to 15th c. paintings (rooms 51 - 66).
    Best rooms are nr 56 with the Flemish Primitives van Eyck "the Arnolfini portrait", van der Weyden, Campin ("Portrait of a Woman" which I rank as good as "La Joconde") and Petrus Christus; room nr 58 with a Botticelli ("Venus and Mars") and nr 62 with the famous portrait of Doge Leonardo Loridan (for details see my review here "Sainsbury wing 1260-1510".

    By the bridge one reaches the 16th c. paintings department (rooms 1 - 14 in the main building). They are mainly Italians of which I liked in room 8 "the Allegory with Venus and Cupid" from Bronzino. In room 4 are the remarkable portraits the "Lady with a Squirrel and a Starling" and "The Ambassadors" from Hans Holbein the Younger (for details see my review "West wing - Paintings from 1500 to 1600").

    Here starts the 17th c. paintings department (rooms 15 - 37).
    This is in my opinion the best department of the National Gallery by its diversity and quality. There are many highlights.
    Here you will find Vermeer ("A Young Woman standing at a Virginal"), De Hoogh ("The Courtyard of a House in Delft"), Rembrandt, Cuyp ("River Landscape with Horseman and Peasants"), Rubens, Van Dijck, Claude Lorrain ("Seaport with the Embarkation of Saint Ursula"), Velazquez ("The Rokeby Venus"), etc.
    Rooms 15, 16, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 and 31 are absolute must sees.
    (for details see my two reviews "North Wing - Paintings from 1600 to 1700" and "North Wing - Landscapes 1600 - 1700").

    The last department is that of the 18th - 20th c. paintings (rooms 33 - 46) and attracts many visitors because of the Impressionists.
    Best rooms are nr 34 with Constable ("The Hay Wain") and Turner ("The Fighting Temeraire); nr 38 with Canaletto and Guardi, to end with the Impressionists in rooms 43 - 46 ( for details see my review "Paintings from 1700 to 1900").

    Photos from the web. Photos not allowed in the NG. I don't understand this policy because all these works of art are in the public domain.

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  • cleocat's Profile Photo

    So many wonderful artworks

    by cleocat Written Jan 28, 2014

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    National Art Gallery London

    You can spend weeks and still not have enough time to experience all the wonderful artworks. If ever I am in the area I pop in, even if it is just to have a look at Van Gogh's sunflowers. We have tried all tricks to take some photos inside, but the door guards are very quick and there is no way they will allow you to take pics. For that you will have to go to the Saatchi Gallery.

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    The National Gallery

    by SallyM Written Jan 5, 2014
    The National Gallery

    The National Gallery occupies an imposing building on the north side of Trafalgar Square. Like most publicly-owned museums and galleries in London, admission is free, though voluntary donations of £4 per head are encouraged, and there may be a charge for special exhibitions.

    There are over 2,300 pictures in the collection, covering the period from the Middle Ages to the early 20th century, including works by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Titian, Holbein, Rembrandt, Constable, Turner, Stubbs, Renoir and Van Gogh.

    One of my personal favourites is 'Whistlejacket' by Stubbs. Although I'm not a particularly 'horsey' type, the animal just seems to leap off the canvas.

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    Sainsbury wing 1260-1510.

    by breughel Updated Oct 19, 2013

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    Arnolfini portrait by Jan Van Eyck 1434.
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    This wing which shows paintings from 1260-1510 is located in a separate building left of the main one. The collection is on the 2nd floor linked to the main building by a bridge.
    The Sainsbury Wing was opened in 1991. It is a gift (50 million £) from Lord Sainsbury of Preston Candover and his brothers The Hon. Simon Sainsbury (*) and Sir Timothy Sainsbury.

    My preferred painting here is the Arnolfini portrait by Jan Van Eyck (room 56). This is one of the highlights of Flemish 15th c. school "Flemish Primitives" (see my tips on my Brussels museum pages Royal Museum of Fine Arts ).
    Flemish primitives were not the first to use oil paints but they excelled in it and Van Eyck was a master in this technique which allowed him to depict with great subtlety the effects of light on the fabrics and clothes.
    Arnolfini was an Italian merchant from the town of Lucca near Pisa. He lived in Bruges at the time that this Flemish town was an important trade centre.
    It is often taught that Arnolfoni's wife is pregnant but this is not sure; the full-skirted dress was fashionable in that time (1434) it seems.
    In the same room is a portrait of "A Woman" (photo 4) from Robert Campin (Flemish school 15th c.) also identified as the "Master of Flémalle". In my ranking of women portraits I would put this portrait on the same rank as "La Joconde".
    In the same room 56, the best of the Sainsbury wing, are also portraits from Petrus Christus another follower of Van Eyck.

    Another remarkable painting in the Sainsbury wing, room 58, is "Venus and Mars" from Sandro Botticelli (1485).

    Among my favoured paintings of this absolutely remarkable collection, mainly 15th century works is another extraordinary portrait like "The Doge Leonardo Loredan" from Giovanni Bellini (room 62).

    (*)Simon Sainsbury who died in 2006 bequeathed 5 impressionist paintings (Monet, Degas, Gauguin, Rousseau) to the National Gallery and 13 to the Tate Gallery for an estimated value of 100 million £.

    Open: Daily 10am–6pm, Fridays 10am–9pm. Free.
    No photos allowed. My illustrations are from the web.

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  • breughel's Profile Photo

    West wing - Paintings from 1500 to 1600.

    by breughel Updated Oct 19, 2013

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    NG - Allegory with Venus and Cupid - Bronzino
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    The highlights of this 16th c. department of the National Gallery are the Italians:
    Raphael, 'The Madonna of the Pinks',
    Titian, 'Bacchus and Ariadne',
    Michelangelo, 'The Entombment',
    Leonardo da Vinci, 'The Virgin of the Rocks',
    All of the begin of the 16th c. This century continues the tradition of the large religious paintings, but portraits as well official as private get more and more importance. Mythology is also a main subject of paintings.

    Among all these classical Italian paintings one work from Bronzino surprises by its "cool" eroticism "the Allegory with Venus and Cupid" (±1545). The concept of this painting is an enigma with symbols and emblems from mythology and heraldry (pic 1).

    In total contrast with the Italians is a work from Pieter Bruegel the Elder " The Adoration of the Kings" (1564). Surprising is the person on the extreme right wearing spectacles. It is an ironic manner of Bruegel to show the inability of the assistants to see the significance of Jesus. The soldiers reflect the Spanish occupation of the Netherlands in that period. (pic 2 & 3)

    A remarkable portrait in this department is the "Lady with a Squirrel and a Starling" (1526) (pic 4) and, of course, "The Ambassadors" (room 4) from Hans Holbein the Younger.

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    North Wing - Landscapes 1600 - 1700.

    by breughel Updated Oct 19, 2013

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    NG - M. Hobbema - The Avenue at Middelharnis
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    Landscapes were one of the major themes of the 17th c. paintings especially in the Netherlands.
    Indeed the Dutch Golden century produced thousands of landscapes of all kinds:
    River views and seaside landscapes, "green" landscapes often with a cottage under some threes, winter landscapes usually with skaters on a frozen river or pond, town landscapes and these interiors of churches which were a Dutch speciality.
    These thousand of landscapes were painted not on order but to be sold to anybody who wanted to decorate his interior. Many Dutch families owed such small sized paintings for decoration. These paintings are most often of good quality but do not necessarily show much originality. Shall I say that a cottage and trees from Jacob van Ruisdael, is not very different from other cottages in a wood by the same Van Ruisdael.
    The National Gallery has a large number of these Dutch paintings which are quite agreeable to look at especially for the visitor feeling saturated with religious and mythological scenes.

    Outstanding among these landscapes is a painting from Meindert Hobbema which by its originality and some symbolism stands out in this field of art.
    "Het Laantje van Middelharnis - The Avenue at Middelharnis" (1689) is remarkable by the perspective effect given by the upward-pointing trees receding from the foreground to the village and church in the distance (room 21).
    Unfortunately, his other works have not the majesty of the above painting and are a repetition of subjects like trees around a pool and water-mils.

    Another highlight of the landscapes in this North Wing (room 21) is the "River Landscape with Horseman and Peasants" (1659) by Aelbert Cuyp. This is the most beautiful landscape of this Dutch painter very appreciated by British collectors. In his masterly handling of the sunlight Aelbert Cuyp approaches Claude le Lorrain (ref. my tip on Le Louvre).

    No amateur of paintings and more generally arts should omit to visit the National Gallery and its remarkable collections of the North wing.

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    North Wing - Paintings from 1600 to 1700.

    by breughel Updated Oct 19, 2013

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    NG - P. de Hooch
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    This is in my opinion the best department of the National Gallery by its diversity and quality.

    The highlights here are:
    Vermeer, "A Young Woman standing at a Virginal" (room 25),
    Van Dyck, "Equestrian Portrait of Charles I" (room 31),
    Caravaggio, "The Supper at Emmaus" ,
    Claude Le Lorrain, "Seaport with the Embarkation of Saint Ursula" (room 20) (see my comment on this painter in my Le Louvre tips),
    Velázquez, "The Rokeby Venus" (room 30),
    Rubens, "Samson and Delilah",
    Rembrandt, "Self Portrait at the Age of 34".

    Dutch, Flemish, Italian, Spanish and French schools of the 17th c. are on display in the North Wing with excellent works.
    All types of paintings are present: the large works with religious and mythological subjects and the small sized paintings introduced by the Dutch school showing landscapes, genre paintings, private portraits.
    My preferences go to the Vermeer and a Pieter de Hooch "The Courtyard of a House in Delft" (room 25).
    There is also in this North Wing a unique landscape from Rubens:
    "A View of Het Steen in the Early Morning" (room 29). Surprising a landscape by Rubens showing a "double light" effect! He had bought this manor house near Mechelen and enjoyed there the pleasures of country life.

    Landscapes of all kinds were one of the major themes of the 17th c. paintings especially in the Netherlands.
    I will come back on these landscapes of the North Wing.

    Open: Daily 10am–6pm, Fridays 10am–9pm.
    Free. No photos allowed.

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  • breughel's Profile Photo

    Paintings from 1700 to 1900.

    by breughel Updated Oct 19, 2013

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    NG - John Constable - The Hay Wain
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    What I like with the National Gallery is that the pleasure continues after the 17th c. and goes on to the 19th c. with the Impressionists.

    It is always a pleasure to view or view again the most beautiful landscape "The Hay Wain" (1821) by John Constable (room 34). The painting found no buyer in England but had great success when exhibited in France.
    Another British painter William Turner is on display in this department with the "The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her Last Berth to be broken up, 1838" (room 34). This painting of the famous vessel "Temeraire" (ref. Admiral Nelson at Trafalgar) was voted as the "greatest painting in Britain".

    It is now time to visit the "classical' impressionists with several Monet such as "the Gare St-Lazarre" and "The Water-Lily Pond", Pissaro with "The Boulevard Montmartre at Night", and not forget the "Sunflowers" of Van Gogh.
    This mostly remarkable collection of impressionists is the cherry on the cake of the National Gallery which I consider as one of the three best painting museums in Europe with the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam (when the renovation works will be completed) and the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin.

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    The National Gallery

    by Paul2001 Updated Jul 17, 2013

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    Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery

    The National Gallery of London is the first of the world's greatest collections of Western Art that I had ever visited. Being something of a novice in the art viewing at this time, I rushed through the gallery. I think my visit was completed in three hours. Compare that to my last visit to the Louvre where I allowed myself seven hours and I spent time in only the Italian, Dutch and German collections. I now feel ashamed that I did not give the astonishing collection in the National Gallery more time as it deserves at least a full days visitation.
    All the great artists in art history are represented here from the early Renaissance by such artists as Van Eyk and Fra Angelico through to the post impressionists like Cezanne and early Picasso. What is most important is that the works on display here represent these artists at their best. The quality of the collection is even more impressive than the quantity. During my most recent visit I felt that the Dutch renaissance collection, in just one room, was kind of weak. On the other had the Italian collection is remarkable strong.
    What is interesting about this collection is that it did not have it's beginnings as a royal art collection like some of the other great collections of Europe. Rather its quality is the result of very astute collectors working on behalf of the government when they began the collection in 1824.
    I think that unless you have a lot patients that I might be a difficult personal to go through an art gallery with. I entered this gallery being the first person to walk through the door as it open and did not leave until a half hour before closing.
    Here is an even more astonishing fact for you all, admission is what you are willing to pay. I coughed up 5 pounds. My one little complaint is that the café is rather ordinary. One might expect a more splendid place to eat lunch in such a magnificent gallery.
    Finally I highly recommend that you visit the website listed below before going. It is the best website of a major collection that I have visited thus far.

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    National Gallery

    by Kuznetsov_Sergey Updated Jun 23, 2013

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    National Gallery
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    The National Gallery is an art museum on Trafalgar Square. Founded in 1824, it houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900.
    Its collection belongs to the public of the United Kingdom and entry to the main collection is free of charge.
    The National Gallery houses one of the greatest collections of Western European painting in the world. Enjoy free entrance 361 days a year.
    Paintings.
    It is considered to be the fifth most visited art museum in the world, after the Musée du Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the British Museum and Tate Modern.
    Visiting:
    Opening hours:
    Daily 10am – 6pm
    Friday 10am – 9pm
    Getting here

    Unfortunately it was forbidden to take videos there… That's why I haven'y any videos... Pity...

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  • Dabs's Profile Photo

    National Gallery

    by Dabs Written Jun 18, 2013

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    I had thought that my niece wouldn't want to visit the National Gallery with the big art museums looming in the Paris portion of our trip but she wanted to visit and so we stopped here on our 1st evening in London when it was open late. We even stopped by a 2nd time later in the trip to see the rest of what we missed.

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    National Gallery of Art

    by shrimp56 Updated Mar 27, 2013

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    This is a major museum of the history of Western Eurpean painting. The holdings include many of the big names you would expect. The new Sainsbury wing, opened in 1991, is a great venue for the big special exhibitions. The gallery was founded in 1824 with the purchase by the House of Commons of 38 paintings from the banker John Julius Angerstein.

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  • mikey_e's Profile Photo

    An ill-fated collection

    by mikey_e Written Dec 11, 2012

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    The National Gallery
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    The National Gallery is one of London’s top tier of art galleries and museums. Nearly 200 years old, it specializes in European art in the pre-Modern era (Modern in the artistic, rather than economic or historical sense). The Gallery was founded in 1824 when the state purchased 38 paintings and started a gallery of its own. The original building was found on Pall Mall, and the collection did not move to its current site until the 1830s, after the building was constructed specifically to house the collection. The building is a Neo-Classical structure, and the architecture of the Gallery was meant to inspire the same sort of learning and expansion of consciousness promoted by the principles of the Enlightenment. Unfortunately, a lack of funds forced a number of reductions in the scale of the Gallery, and thus it was only through repeated additions and renovations that it was able to achieve the size it is today. The Gallery’s collection has, in the past, been influenced by desires to promote a National School, but it has otherwise remained fairly faithful to its main themes of Renaissance, Impressionist and Old Masters’ paintings. The Gallery’s ability to collect works, aided by the State, has nonetheless been dwarfed by the resources available to private collectors and their institutions, and since the end of the Second World War, the National Gallery has found itself incapable of counterbalancing the influence of private money in the acquisition of great works of the Western art canon. Despite this, and the various controversial attempts to introduce modern design and architectural trends into the Gallery’s interior, it remains an institution in London, one that is a touchstone for the bedrock of the city’s vibrant artistic community.

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    MUSICIANS, LIVING STATUES AND CHAIN SAW JUGGLERS

    by davidjo Written Dec 7, 2012
    concentrate hard
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    In front of the National Gallery seems to be the place to watch street performers. Besides the usual musicians there was a guy juggling a chain saw which was already operating. He was attracting a good size crowd and certainly had the gift of the gab as he explained that this was his only way to provide for his wife and children (if he actually had any). He was encouraging the tourists to donate £5, and kept repeating this too many times. Yes, he started the saw, threw it in the air a few times, each time a little higher and carefully caught it. I did not think that this was too difficult as the chain saw was not rotating too much. I think i saw the same guy here a few years ago and i just wonder if he is paying his taxes as he seemed to be collecting a decent amount of money.

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    ART, ART, ART

    by davidjo Written Nov 27, 2012

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    imposing building

    The National Gallery at the north side of Trafalgar Square was founded in 1824 and contains over 2000 paintings from the last 8 centuries, and the most famous exhibits are by Leonardo Da Vinci, Turner, Rembrandt, Boticelli, Monet, and Van Gogh which you can see for free as there is no entrance charge. There are guided tours, audio tours and is open daily from 10 am-6 pm (fri until 9 pm)

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