The possibilities when traveling to a big city like London are many. But the range of experiences widens even more when we talk about art and museums. Undoubtedly, in the English capital we find some of the most exquisite galleries that exist and the National Gallery would occupy the first positions.
Join us on a wonderful tour of this art gallery. We are going to reveal everything you need to know about the National Gallery and the masterpieces that cannot be missed on your visit.
A short story about the National Gallery
Located to the north of majestic Trafalgar Square, the building dominates the open space of the square. It is one of the most valuable art galleries in the world, with some 2,300 pieces, mostly of European art. Likewise, his collection covers an extensive period between the 13th century and 1900.
Being a non-profit entity and a public department, its access is free except for some specific temporary exhibition. The National Gallery is open every day 24 hours a day, morning and afternoon.
Unlike most European museums, the set of works was not created from royal collections, but its purpose was to make art accessible to all, for educational purposes.
The paintings have been acquired through purchases and private donations. Although their number is smaller, the quality and exception of the paintings is beyond any doubt. In the National Gallery we will find some of the brightest jewels in the history of art.
Designed in the purest style of a classical temple by William Wilkins in 1838, the construction was not exempt from criticism and controversy. The main problem was the lack of space and architectural solutions. Despite everything, the original building remains practically intact, as the extensions have been expanding around the original building.
The National Gallery Collection
In this art gallery we will find one of the most outstanding compendiums in terms of European painting.. By having a smaller number of pieces compared to other museums, this allows most of its great works to be on display and not in storage.
The main artistic schools have a clear role: the Dutch, the English, the Flemish, the French, the German, the Italian and the Spanish. On your tour of the National Gallery you will come across some of the most significant paintings in existence. Do you want to know what surprises the interior of this ‘temple of art’ holds for you?
The Arnolfini Marriage one of the stars of the National Gallery
Made in 1434, is one of the great icons of painting born from the brushstroke of Jan van Eyck, the genius of the primitive Flemish school. Despite the many interpretations that this work has led to, what is certain is that it is an exceptional testimony to the society of the time.
Thanks to the exquisite details of the artist, we have a canvas of absolutely scrupulous accuracy. It is worth stopping as long as possible to admire it.
Look at the mirror in the background that reflects the room seen from behind. In each piece of furniture finely represented. In the rich clothing and the sublime treatment of light and perspective. It is a creation loaded with symbolism around marriage and wealth in which it is essential to deepen.
venus and marsthe victory of love
Botticelli, one of the great masters of the Italian Quattrocento, was inspired in 1483 by Greek mythology and represents the triumph of love between two gods. The story of Aphrodite (or Venus) and Ares (or Mars) is a convoluted love triangle with numerous examples in the art world.
The artist chooses on this occasion to capture the moment in which the goddess of love has defeated the god of warwho surrenders to her. A bucolic setting and a landscape format are enough to marvel at Botticelli’s skill.
the ambassadors, an essential piece in the National Gallery
With this painting by Hans Holbein the Younger, painted in 1533, we come across another of the most important canvases in history. We are facing a work of ‘vanity’a unique type of still life with a high symbolic content, which usually means the certainty of death in the face of worldly pleasures.
We contemplate Jean de Dinteville and Georges de Selve accompanied by objects related to the quadrivium (the four mathematical sciences). It is a piece full of mysterious allegories, especially when discovering the strange figure in the foreground made by anamorphosis, a skull. Hidden meanings in a solemn work from which we will not be able to look away.
The secret of this painting is revealed at the moment when, slowly moving away from it, little by little, to the left, and then we return, we see what the magical floating object means.
mirror venus, a treasure of Diego Velázquez
At the National Gallery we have the opportunity to fall in love with one of the most beautiful canvases by the master of the Spanish Golden Age. Velázquez made this painting between 1647 and 1651, charging it with sensuality with the goddess Venus lying naked.
On the other hand, Cupid holds the mirror in which he looks at himself and thanks to this we can intuit his face. Although far from looking like a goddess, simply introduces us to a womanendowing the theme with an earthly sense, as is usual in the Sevillian genius.
It was attacked by a British suffragette in 1914 and underwent major restoration. Also, it is the only surviving work by Velázquez to contain a nude. In it, the goddess looks at us through the mirror while we are fascinated by the sublime stroke.
The Temerario towed to its final berth for scrapping
JM W Turner, the ‘painter of light’ of English Romanticism, created in 1839 one of his masterpieces that we can admire today in the National Gallery. Inspired by the power and strength of nature to try to capture the sublime and the violent of these phenomena.
Thus, the insignificance of the human being is demonstrated: the cruelty of the sea, the catastrophe of a fire or the inexplicable beauty of the sunset. These characteristics go hand in hand to accompany HMS Temeraire towards the end of it in the shipyards. In conclusion, we are before a reflection on old age and youthbeing a picture full of sensitivity.
The great swimmers: Cezanne at the National Gallery
Between 1894 and 1905, the father of modern painting left us a creation from his final period. In those years he made various studies of bathers, the piece in the National Gallery being one of the best examples. It manages only through color to represent light and shapes.
Definitely, Cézanne achieves volume with a few brushstrokes and a reduced color range. This is a painting that he worked on and that he perfected over several years. Likewise, it will be an inexhaustible source of inspiration for Matisse, Braque and especially Picasso.
As you can see, there are many great works that flood the rooms of the National Gallery: The Virgin of the Rocks of DaVinci; Bacchus and Ariadne of Titian; Boy bitten by a lizard of Caravaggio; The sunflowers of Van Gogh or The umbrellas of Renoir. Be sure to visit your most beloved pieces in this magnificent art gallery.