Michelangelo’s creative collaboration

The National Gallery’s very first acquisition was a collaboration between Michelangelo and Sebastiano, The Raising of Lazarus. It’s a huge canvas, with the biblical subject of Christ raising a man from the dead depicted in vivid, glowing colours. A fine start to a great collection. Creative collaboration then is not such a modern concept, and…

Visiting Rembrandt at home

Did you know Van Gogh was one of the first visitors to the newly opened Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, visiting the Rembrandts just before he moved to Paris? Or that the Nachtwacht was deliberately placed at the end of the gallery of honour in the altar position of a church? Somehow the Rijksmuseum feels to me…

Inspiring the next generation – paintings for painters

What do painters put up on their walls? Is it only their own work, or do they also collect other artists, to admire and inspire them? The National Gallery continues its series of instructive exhibitions with this intriguing question in Painters’ Paintings: From Freud to Van Dyck (until 4 Sept). Sweeping across five centuries, it…

Delacroix’s impact on Impressionism

London’s art museums, with their rich treasure troves of paintings, are perfectly placed to instruct as well as entertain their audiences. The National Gallery has long proved adept at using what they own to educate the public in a superbly engaging manner. In Delacroix and the Rise of Modern Art (until 22 May), the mastery…

The man who made Impressionism

  You may never have heard of Paul Durand-Ruel, but without his input, you may also never have experienced the thrill of delight at viewing the Impressionists. The National Gallery’s exhibition Inventing Impressionism (until 31 May) traces the story of this French art dealer from his early beginnings as a dealer of the Barbizon school…

Rembrandt’s unflinching portraits

The National Gallery presents a superb range of Rembrandt’s work for the exhibition Rembrandt: The Late Works (until 18 Jan 2015) which focuses on the artist’s last two decades. They include loans such as the enormous canvas, The Conspiracy of the Batavians (1661) from Sweden, measuring two by three meters and conceived as an even…

Neurosis of the new – Vienna in 1900

Forget Klimt’s lavish gold paintings, and think rather of Freud, neurosis and hysteria. That is what Vienna at the turn of the century reflected. In fact, as National Gallery director, Dr Nicholas Penny joked at the press opening of Facing the Modern: The Portrait in Vienna 1900 (until 12 Jan 2014), there have seldom been…