National Gallery

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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.
Dutch Flowers

Dutch Flowers

  • 6 April — 29 August 2016 *on now

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

George Shaw My Back to Nature

  • 11 May — 30 October 2016 *on now

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
  • Family friendly


Take One Picture: Discover, imagine, explore

  • 8 June — 25 September 2016 *on now

Take One Picture is the National Gallery’s flagship project for primary schools. The works in this exhibition demonstrate the innovative ways in which schools have responded to Thomas Gainsborough’s Mr and Mrs Andrews.

The 21st annual 'Take One Picture' exhibition showcases work by children from across England and one school in Spain. From watercolours and lacemaking to ceramics and creative writing, the exhibition features a diverse range of works reflecting the richness of creative responses to this painting. Landscapes, culture, heritage, fashion, and design were just some of the themes explored by the children.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly


Italian Woman

Painters' Paintings: From Van Dyck to Freud

  • 22 June — 4 September 2016 *on now

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

Maíno’s Adorations: Heaven on Earth

  • 28 September 2016 — 29 January 2017

Experience two outstanding masterpieces by Spanish painter Maíno, on display in the UK for the first time.

‘Maíno’s Adorations: Heaven on Earth’ presents two remarkable loans from the Museo del Prado, Madrid by the Spanish painter Fray Juan Bautista Maíno (1581–1649).

Born in Pastrana in Castile, Maíno travelled to Rome at the beginning of the 17th century and was among the first Spanish painters to witness Caravaggio’s revolutionary naturalism.

On display concurrently with the Beyond Caravaggio exhibition, Maíno’s two vast altar paintings ‘The Adoration of the Shepherds’ and ‘The Adoration of the Kings’ illustrate Caravaggio’s extended influence across Europe.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly


St John the Baptist

Beyond Caravaggio

  • 12 October 2016 — 15 January 2017

'Beyond Caravaggio' is 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
Impressionist painting of landscape with mountains in background and shrubs in foreground

Australia’s Impressionists

  • 7 December 2016 — 26 March 2017

Discover Australia’s significant and distinctive Impressionist movement in the first UK exhibition to focus on the subject.

Introducing Impressionism as it manifested itself in the unique Australian context – closely related to yet entirely distinct from its French and British counterparts – 'Australia’s Impressionists' considers the role artists played in defining a new sense of national identity.

Showcasing Australia’s four major exponents of Impressionism – Tom Roberts (1856–1931), Arthur Streeton, Charles Conder (1868–1909), and John Peter Russell (1858–1930) – the exhibition comprises some forty loans, many never previously shown in the UK.

Lenders include some of Australia’s leading public galleries, as well as private collectors there and in the UK.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly


Admission charge applies. Free for members.


Painting depicting the repentant Magdalene, showing the angel virtue chasing away the devil vice, with Mary in the foreground on the ground, her clothes and jewels cast aside.

Cagnacci’s Repentant Magdalene

  • 15 February — 21 May 2017

Witness Cagnacci’s masterpiece, on display in the UK for the first time in over thirty years.

A pupil of Guido Reni, Guido Cagnacci (1601–1663) was an extraordinarily original talent and one of the most accomplished Italian painters of the Baroque period, yet he is not represented in any UK public collection.

'The Repentant Magdalene' is a major loan from the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California, which invites visitors to appreciate Cagnacci’s astonishing naturalism and the characteristic sensuality of his paintings, in what is unquestionably the greatest painting he ever produced.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly


Painting depicting the raising of Lazarus

Michelangelo | Sebastiano: A Meeting of Minds

  • 15 March — 25 June 2017

Learn about the extraordinary artistic relationship between two great Renaissance masters, Sebastiano del Piombo and Michelangelo, from the 1510s through to the 1540s.

Having met in Rome in 1511, where Michelangelo was finishing his decoration of the Sistine Chapel ceiling, the artists became friends and collaborated on several works.

This exhibition focuses on two of these collaborations: the 'Pietà' for San Francesco in Viterbo (c.1512–16), an exceptional loan, and The Raising of Lazarus, painted for the Cathedral of Narbonne, one of the foundational works in the National Gallery Collection.

Works that precede their meeting will also be on display, as well as examples of their extensive, intimate correspondence, providing behind-the-scenes insight into their personal and creative lives, their concerns and frustrations, and moments of glory.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly


Admission charge applies. Free for members.


Photograph of Chris Ofili at the National Gallery

Chris Ofili: Weaving Magic

  • 26 April — 28 August 2017

Turner Prize-winning artist Chris Ofili unveils a new work – see his first foray into the medium of tapestry.

Commissioned by the Clothworkers’ Company, Ofili has been collaborating with the internationally renowned Dovecot Tapestry Studio to see his design translated into a hand-woven tapestry. The imagery reflects Ofili’s ongoing interest in classical mythology and the stories, magic, and colour of the Trinidadian landscape he inhabits.

Ofili returns to the National Gallery following the exhibition Metamorphosis: Titian 2012.

The tapestry goes on permanent display in the Clothworkers’ Hall following this exhibition.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly


Painting depicting montage of images of the virgin and saints

Giovanni da Rimini: An Early 14th-Century Masterpiece Reunited

  • 14 June — 8 October 2017

Learn about a key moment in the history of art, when emphasis on observation and realism was born.

The exquisite Scenes from the Lives of the Virgin and other Saints by Giovanni da Rimini, the most talented artist in 14th-century Rimini, was purchased by the National Gallery in 2015.

Long thought of as part of a diptych together with a panel depicting ‘Scenes from the Life of Christ’ in the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica, Rome, the exhibition reunites the paintings, a reconstruction never before seen in the UK.

Presented with outstanding loans including works by artists working in Rimini in the early 14th century, exceptional ivory plaques, and important Italian Trecento paintings from the National Gallery, the exhibition reveals how these innovative works combine the discerning details of late-Byzantine icons with a new, more expressive style.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly


Painting showing man in dark robe and large hat holding the hand of a pregnant woman in emerald green dress

Reflections: Van Eyck and the Pre-Raphaelites

  • 4 October 2017 — 2 April 2018

Discover how van Eyck’s 'Arnolfini Portrait' was one of the beacons by which the Pre-Raphaelites forged a radical new style of painting.

Acquired by the National Gallery in 1842, the Arnolfini Portrait informed the Pre-Raphaelites’ belief in empirical observation, their ideas about draughtsmanship, colour and technique, and the ways in which objects in a picture could carry symbolic meaning.

The exhibition will bring together for the first time the 'Arnolfini Portrait' with paintings from the Tate collection and loans from other museums, to explore the ways in which Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828–1882), Sir John Everett Millais (1829–1896) and William Holman Hunt (1827–1910), among others, were influenced by the painting in their work.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly


Admission charge applies. Free for members.


Monochrome painting of a young woman in white sat on a window ledge next to a fishbowl and young boy looking through small telescope

Monochrome: Painting in Black and White

  • 1 November 2017 — 18 February 2018

Explore the tradition of painting in black and white from its beginnings in the Middle Ages through the Renaissance and into the 21st century.

Painting using predominantly black-and-white pigments has long held a fascination for artists, yet there has never been a major exhibition on the subject.

‘Monochrome’ presents a series of case studies that investigate where and when grisaille painting was used and to what effect: from early religious works to paintings that emulate sculpture or respond to other media such as printmaking, photography, and film.

Comprising works on glass, vellum, ceramic, silk, wood, and canvas by artists such as Leonardo, Rembrandt, Degas, Picasso, and Gerhard Richter (1932–), ‘Monochrome’ encourages visitors to trace the fascinating but little-studied history of black-and-white painting.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly


Admission charge applies. Free for members.


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

The green hour: Absinthe and Impressionism

  • 30 September 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.

Suitable for

  • 18+


£26/£24 conc./£22 Members


Detail from, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, Salome receives the Head of John the Baptist, about 1609–10

Dramatic encounters: Caravaggio's 'Salome'

  • 7 October 2016 6:15-8:15pm

Discover the disturbing story of Salome and examine Caravaggio’s Salome receives the Head of John the Baptist in a drawing workshop that has its own dramatic twist.

Draw poses inspired by the life of Salome, modelled by performer Chiara Stampone on a theatrically lit stage; and be guided by artist Sophie Charalambous, who will introduce a range of artistic techniques used to capture the drama of Salome’s story.

There will be opportunities to draw long and quick poses from the costumed model, and to experiment with light and tone.

All materials provided. Suitable for all abilities.

Suitable for

  • 18+


£16/£15 conc./£14 Members


Lake Keitele  1905, Akseli Gallen-Kallela

Relax With Paintings

  • 10 October 2016 2-4pm

Suspend your expectations and knowledge of art and immerse yourself in a single painting from the collection.

This is a special opportunity to join a small group in a closed-off room, and be guided towards deeper engagement.

Refreshments provided.

Suitable for

  • 18+


£22/£20 conc./£18 Members


Andrew Graham-Dixon © Margarita Mirabella

Caravaggio: 'A Life Sacred and Profane'

  • 21 October 2016 6:30-8pm

Caravaggio lived the darkest and most dangerous life of any of the great painters.

Join leading art critic Andrew Graham-Dixon as he answers questions that have long puzzled scholars, such as his involvement in a fateful duel and the extraordinary circumstances of his own death.In this fascinating lecture, he reveals how Caravaggio created such drama, immediacy and humanity in his paintings, which depart from the conventions of his time.

Andrew Graham-Dixon
Andrew Graham-Dixon is author of 'Caravaggio: A Life Sacred Profane', published in 2010 by Penguin books.

Suitable for

  • 18+


£9/£8 conc./£7 Members


Detail from Gerrit van Honthorst, Christ before the High Priest, about 1617

Caravaggio and his legacy

  • 31 October 2016 11am-4pm

Caravaggio was one of the most dynamic and influential artists of all time, famed for his dramatic lighting, powerful realism, and revolutionary approach to storytelling.

This one-day course examines Caravaggio’s work and its impact on the art of his contemporaries and followers, both in Italy and further afield.


The morning session explores Caravaggio’s life and works, from early Lombard influences and his training under Simone Peterzano, to his meteoric rise to fame in Rome; his dramatic fall from grace following the murder of Ranuccio Tomassoni in May 1606; and the subsequent four years spent on the run in Sicily, Malta, and Naples.

Caravaggio’s paintings in the National Gallery will be used to structure the talk, which focuses on the various stages of his career.

1–2pm Lunch


The afternoon session considers Caravaggio’s influence with a special focus on the Utrecht Caravaggisti of the 17th century. We also examine the fascinating detective story leading to the rediscovery of Caravaggio’s 'Taking of Christ' in Dublin, for many years attributed to Gerard van Honthorst.

Suitable for

  • 18+


£28/£24 concessions/£22 Members


Detail from Diego Velázquez, The Toilet of Venus ('The Rokeby Venus'), 1647-51

The splendour of Baroque

  • 3 — 10 November 2016

Baroque art is characterised by rich colour, intense light, and dark shadows, which create a heightened sense of drama and emotion. Painted figures are powerfully realistic and appear caught in mid-action. Sculpture and the decorative arts swirl with energy. Church design takes on a new dynamism, engaging the viewer emotionally and physically.

On this two-week course, discover the purpose and meaning of this extravagant and exuberant style in painting, sculpture and architecture, and learn about its social, religious and political context in 17th-century Europe.

We will analyse the works of a variety of artists including Caravaggio, Velázquez, and Rubens, and also reflect on the legacy of the Baroque in art and culture today.

Suitable for

  • 18+


£28/£24 conc./£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
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National Gallery website

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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.