National Gallery

(c) The National Gallery, London Photo: Philip Sayer
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The National Gallery houses the national collection of paintings in the Western European tradition from the 13th to the 19th centuries. It is on show 361 days a year, free of charge.

With free access to over 2,300 paintings from altarpieces to the Impressionists, there's something for everyone at the National Gallery.

Venue Type:

Gallery, Museum

Opening hours

Open daily 10.00-18.00, Fri 10.00-21.00

Admission charges

Admission free

Additional info

The National Gallery holds regular events given or interpreted in British Sign Language (BSL).
On the last Saturday of every month the ‘Art Through Words’ programme for blind and partially sighted visitors examines one painting in the collection in detail.

The National Gallery’s permanent collection spans the period from about 1250 to 1900 and consists of Western European paintings.

Collection details

Fine Art, Personalities, Religion, Social History

Key artists and exhibits

  • 'The Wilton Diptych'
  • Jan van Eyck 'The Arnolfini Portrait'
  • Paolo Uccello 'The Battle of San Romano'
  • Piero della Francesca 'The Baptism of Christ'
  • Sandro Botticelli 'Venus and Mars'
  • Leonardo da Vinci 'The Virgin of the Rocks'
  • Michelangelo 'The Entombment'
  • Giovanni Bellini 'The Doge Leonardo Loredan'
  • Raphael 'The Madonna of the Pinks'
  • Jan Gossaert 'The Adoration of the Kings'
  • Titian 'Bacchus and Ariadne'
  • Hans Holbein the Younger 'The Ambassadors'
  • Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, 'The Supper at Emmaus'
  • Peter Paul Rubens 'Samson and Delilah'
  • Anthony Van Dyck, 'Equestrian Portrait of Charles I'
  • Rembrandt 'Self Portrait at the Age of 34'
  • Claude 'Seaport with the Embarkation of Saint Ursula'
  • Diego Velázquez 'The Rokeby Venus'
  • Johannes Vermeer 'A Young Woman standing at a Virginal'
  • Canaletto 'The Stonemason's Yard'
  • Thomas Gainsborough 'Mr and Mrs Andrews'
  • George Stubbs 'Whistlejacket'
  • François-Hubert Drouais 'Madame de Pompadour at her Tambour Frame'
  • John Constable, 'The Hay Wain'
  • Joseph Mallord William Turner 'The Fighting Temeraire'
  • Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres 'Madame Moitessier'
  • Claude-Oscar Monet 'Bathers at La Grenouillère'
  • Georges Seurat 'Bathers at Asnières'
  • Vincent Van Gogh 'Sunflowers'
  • Paul Cezanne, 'Bathers (Les Grandes Baigneuses)'
Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.
painting of a man sat at a table with a gold tablecloth

Goya: The Portraits

  • 7 October 2015 — 10 January 2016 *on now

Francisco de Goya (1746 -1828) is one of Spain’s most celebrated artists. He was considered a supremely gifted portrait painter and an excellent social commentator who took the genre of portraiture to new heights through his ability to reveal the psychology of his sitter.

This landmark exhibition - the first ever focusing solely on his portraits - re-appraises Goya’s genius as a portraitist and provide a penetrating insight into both public and private aspects of his life. It explores Goya’s ambitions and development as a painter, and his innovative and unconventional approach to portraiture which often broke traditional boundaries.

By bringing together more than 50 of his most outstanding portraits from around the world, including drawings and miniatures, and organising them in a chronological and thematic sequence, the show enables viewers to engage for the first time with the full range of Goya’s technical, stylistic and psychological development as a portraitist.


Goya's Portrait of Dona Isabel de Porcel: A Question of Attribution

  • 7 October 2015 — 10 January 2016 *on now

A unique opportunity to focus on the Portrait of Doña Isabel de Porcel and reconsider its attribution in the context of the exhibition Goya: The Portraits

Francisco de Goya’s ‘Portrait of Doña Isabel de Porcel’, purchased by the National Gallery in 1896, was among the first paintings by the Spanish artist to enter the collection and has long been heralded as one of his most dazzling portraits. And yet it is precisely this flamboyance that has led scholars more recently to cast doubts over its attribution to Goya.

Although painted with tremendous flair, the picture’s brushwork – when compared with his other portraits – lacks Goya’s customary subtlety in describing transparencies and textures. The sitter, Isabel de Porcel, is extremely charismatic but we struggle to grasp her psychological state
something in which Goya’s portraits invariably excelled.

Technical examination of ‘Portrait of Doña Isabel de Porcel’, including X-rays and paint cross-sections, has revealed that Isabel de Porcel was painted directly on top of another portrait. Although perhaps surprising, this is not unique in Goya’s work – nor was it a practice adopted exclusively by him.

This thought-provoking display brings together the historical and technical evidence surrounding ‘Portrait of Doña Isabel de Porcel’, and looks again at the attribution question of one of the most striking and recognisable paintings in the National Gallery.

Suitable for

  • Any age


Visions of Paradise: Botticini's Palmieri Altarpiece

  • 4 November 2015 — 14 February 2016 *on now

Francesco Botticini’s Assumption of the Virgin has bewildered scholars for centuries. ‘Visions of Paradise: Botticini’s Palmieri Altarpiece’ showcases new research on this monumental painting, clarifying long-perpetuated misunderstandings about its authorship, date, original location, and iconography.

The altarpiece, installed in the church of San Pier Maggiore in Florence in 1477, was commissioned by Matteo Palmieri (1406–1475) before his death, and he is portrayed kneeling at the lower left of the painting together with his wife, Niccolosa de’ Serragli, at the right.

This free exhibition explores the fascinating life of Palmieri, a true Renaissance man who trained in his native Florence as an apothecary, studied philosophy and rhetoric with the leading humanist scholars of the period, wrote histories, biographies and poetry, held top positions in the Florentine government, and developed close friendships with the Medici rulers of Florence.

Suitable for

  • Any age


Delacroix and the Rise of Modern Art

  • 17 February — 22 May 2016

Described as the last painter of the Grand Style and the first of the modern masters, Eugène Delacroix (1798–1863) was the pre-eminent French artist of the first half of the 19th century – complex, contradictory, a rebel, and an outsider. Few artists had more of a profound and lasting influence on his contemporaries and future generations.

Delacroix was the very engine of revolution that helped transform the art of French painting in the 19th century. Credited with liberating colour and technique from traditional rules and practices, he paved the way for new styles of painting such as Impressionism. Upon his death in 1863, he was the most revered artist in Paris. Baudelaire described the artist as, 'A poet in painting? while Cézanne observed, 'We all paint in Delacroix’s language?. Arguably he was the most influential artist of his era.

This landmark exhibition, the first presentation of Delacroix’s art in Britain for more than 50 years, will explore Delacroix’s influence on his contemporaries, such as Chassériau, Courbet, and Géricault and subsequently the later artists who found inspiration in his art, including Manet, Cézanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Renoir, Matisse and Kandinsky.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Dutch Flowers

  • 6 April — 29 August 2016

The first display of its kind in 20 years, this exhibition explores the development of Dutch flower painting from its beginnings in the early 17th century to its blossoming in the late 18th century.

Coinciding with the flower shows at Chelsea and Hampton Court, 'Dutch Flowers' draws connections between the development of flower painting in the Netherlands to increased interest in botany, horticulture, and the phenomenon of ‘tulip mania’.

The exhibition presents an overview of the key artists active within the field and highlight the connections between them. Viewers are invited to examine each work closely and in detail to appreciate the stylistic and technical characteristics of each artist.

Suitable for

  • Any age

George Shaw: My Back to Nature

  • 11 May — 30 October 2016

George Shaw became the National Gallery’s ninth Rootstein Hopkins Associate Artist in 2014 and this exhibition is the unveiling of his works created over two years in the studio at the Gallery.

Shaw, who was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2011, is renowned for his highly detailed approach and suburban subject matter. Paintings featuring woodlands have a particular appeal for Shaw as they resonate with his own experience of walking in the forest near his home town as a teenager and the feeling that 'something out of the ordinary could happen at any time there away from the supervision of adults?.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Painters' Paintings: From Van Dyck to Freud

  • 22 June — 4 September 2016

The National Gallery owns one of the world’s greatest collections of paintings. Among them is a significant group of pictures once owned by fellow painters: Van Dyck’s Titian
Reynolds’s Rembrandt
Matisse’s Degas
Lucian Freud’s Corot. This exhibition looks for the first time at these great works of art from the point of view of their illustrious artistic provenance. They are "painters’ paintings".

Major works in their own right, these paintings are imbued with additional cachet by virtue of their ownership by great painters. They also raise a number of essential questions: What pictures did painters surround themselves with? Did they concentrate on works by their contemporaries or by the great masters of the past? Was their significance emotional, spiritual, or intellectual? How deeply did the paintings impact on their own artistic journeys? And how relevant were they to these painter-collectors’ own work?

To address these issues, the exhibition presents a series of case studies, featuring about 60 works in total. Each section is devoted to a particular painter, including Degas, Lawrence, Reynolds, Matisse, Van Dyck and Freud, and is built around one or several of his "painter's paintings" in the Gallery’s collection.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Beyond Caravaggio

  • 12 October 2016 — 15 January 2017

Beyond Caravaggio' will be the first major exhibition in the UK to explore the influence of Caravaggio on the art of his contemporaries and followers.

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571–1610) is one of the most revolutionary figures in art. His strikingly original paintings, with their intense naturalism and dramatic lighting, had a lasting impact on European art, both during his lifetime and in the decades immediately following his untimely death.

This exhibition will look at the ripple effect of Caravaggio’s influence on the art of his followers – artists as diverse as Orazio Gentileschi, Valentin de Boulogne, and Gerrit van Honthorst. Every one of them absorbed something different from Caravaggio – some borrowed his theatrical lighting whilst others sought to emulate the power of his storytelling – and helped propagate his style across Europe, giving rise to the international movement known as ‘Caravaggism’.

Suitable for

  • Any age
Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.
© The National Gallery, London

The lily: Carol Klein and Jennifer Sliwka in conversation

  • 4 December 2015 6:30-7:30pm

In Botticini's Assumption of the Virgin, the Apostles marvel at the tomb of the Virgin, which is overflowing with white lilies, while above, Christ receives her into the highest circle of Heaven.

BBC Gardeners' World expert Carol Klein reflects on the lily, tracing its history from botanical specimen to cultural emblem, and discussing its symbolism and depiction in art with Jennifer Sliwka, curator of Visions of Paradise.

For more information please visit

Suitable for

  • 18+


£7/£6 concession/£5 Members


Detail from Edouard Manet, Corner of a Café-Concert, probably 1878–80

The Green Hour

  • 19 February 2016 6:30-8:30pm

Absinthe, or 'the green fairy', fuelled 19th-century French artistic creativity. Van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec drank this wormwood liquor heavily, while Manet and Degas made it the subject of their paintings.

Discover the scandalous history and enduring mystique of absinthe with master distiller Ted Breaux, and explore Manet's Corner of a Café-Concert in a talk by Jo Rhymer. For those who would like to sample this alcoholic drink, we close with an absinthe tasting, sponsored by Sip Or Mix.

For more information please visit

Suitable for

  • 18+


£26/£24 concession/£22 Members


Resources listed here may include websites, bookable tours and workshops, books, loan boxes and more. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all.

Magic Carpet Storytelling on Sundays

Fly away on the magic carpet at The National Gallery as it comes to land in front of a different painting each Sunday. Enjoy stories that tie in with creative workshops happening on the same day, suitable for children under 5 years old. Come along at 10.30-11.00 or 11.30-12.00 to the Education Centre.

How to obtain

Booking is not necessary but places are limited and allocated on arrival. Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times. Email for further details.

Take One Picture

Take One Picture
Each year the National Gallery's Take One Picture scheme focuses on a painting from the Collection to inspire cross-curricular work in primary classrooms.
Paintings can be used for work in literacy, numeracy, ICT, science, history, art and design, craft, design and technology, and PSHEE and citizenship.
Each year the Gallery displays a selection of schools' work in the Take One Picture exhibition.

How to obtain

Please telephone 020 7747 2844 or email for dates and availability.

National Gallery
Trafalgar Square
Greater London


National Gallery website

National Gallery online shop



020 7747 2885


020 7747 2423

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.