The National Gallery ★★★

A room at London's National Gallery (Photo by Alex)
A room at London's National Gallery
A room at London's National Gallery, National Gallery, London (Photo by Alex)
The facade of the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square, National Gallery, London (Photo by Mariano Mantel)
The Virgin of the Rocks (1503–06) by Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519), National Gallery, London (Photo )
The Water-Lily Pond (1899) by Claude Monet (1840–1926), National Gallery, London (Photo )
Portrait of Pope Julius II (1511) by Raphael Sanzio (1483–1520), National Gallery, London (Photo )
Bacchus and Ariadne (1520–23) by Titian (1490–1576), National Gallery, London (Photo )
Baptism of Christ (1448–50) by Piero della Francesca (1420–1492), National Gallery, London (Photo )
Entombment (1610) by Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564), National Gallery, London (Photo )
Portrait of Doge Leonardo Loredan (after 1501) by Giovanni Bellini (1430–1516), National Gallery, London (Photo )
Venus and Mars (1483) by Sandro Botticelli (1445–1510), National Gallery, London (Photo )
Saint Jerome in his Study (c. 1475) by Antonello da Messina (1430–79), National Gallery, London (Photo )
Boy Bitten by a Lizard (1593/94) by Caravaggio (1572–1610), National Gallery, London (Photo )
Salome with the Head of John the Baptist (1610) by Caravaggio (1572–1610), National Gallery, London (Photo )
After the Bath, Woman Drying Herself (1896/98) by Edgar Degas (1834–1917), National Gallery, London (Photo )
A Woman Bathing (1564) by Rembrandt van Rinj (1606–69), National Gallery, London (Photo )
Young woman standing at a virginal (1670-72) by Johannes Vermeer (1632–75), National Gallery, London (Photo )
Samson and Delilah (1609–10) by Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640), National Gallery, London (Photo )
Portrait of the Duke of Wellington (1812–14) by Francisco Goya (1746–1828), National Gallery, London (Photo )
Marriage a-la-Mode: 1, The Marriage Settlement (1743) by William Hogarth (1697–1764), National Gallery, London (Photo )
The Agony in the Garden (1458–60) by Andrea Mantegna (1431–1506), National Gallery, London (Photo )
Pala Colonna, Santi Girolamo e Giovanni Battista—Sts. Jerome and John the Baptist (1426–28) by Masaccio (1401–28), National Gallery, London (Photo )
The Thames at Westminster 1871 Westminster (1871) by Claude Monet (1840–1926), National Gallery, London (Photo )
Water-Lilies, Setting Sun (1907) by Claude Monet (1840–1926), National Gallery, London (Photo )
The Madonna and Child with the Infant Baptist (aka The Garvagh Madonna or The Aldobrandini Madonna) (1509/10) by Raphael Sanzio (1483–1520), National Gallery, London (Photo )
The Madonna of the Pinks (1506/07) by Raphael Sanzio (1483–1520), National Gallery, London (Photo )
The Crucified Christ with the Virgin Mary, Saints and Angels (aka The Mond Crucifixion) (1502–03) by Raphael Sanzio (1483–1520), National Gallery, London (Photo )
Belshazzar's Feast (1635/38) by Rembrandt van Rinj (1606–69), National Gallery, London (Photo )
Self-portrait (1669) by Rembrandt van Rinj (1606–69), National Gallery, London (Photo )
Self-portrait at the Age of 34 (1660) by Rembrandt van Rinj (1606–69), National Gallery, London (Photo )
The Judgment of Paris (1597/99) by Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640), National Gallery, London (Photo )
The Battle of San Romano (1438–40) by Paolo Uccello (1397–1475), National Gallery, London (Photo )
A Young Woman Seated at a Virginal (1670/72) by Johannes Vermeer (1632–75), National Gallery, London (Photo )
Venus at Her Mirror (aka The Rokeby Venus) (1644–48) by Diego Velaquez (1599–1660), National Gallery, London (Photo courtesy of the National Gallery)
Dutch Boats in a Gale (1801) by JMW Turner — a work in a more formal, Classical style, National Gallery, London (Photo courtesy of the National Gallery)
Supper at Emmaus (1601) by Caravaggio, National Gallery, London (Photo courtesy of the National Gallery)
Les Grandes Baigneuses (The Large Bathers) (c. 1905) by Paul Cézanne, National Gallery, London (Photo courtesy of the National Gallery)
Miss La La at the Cirque Fernando (1879) by Edgar Degas, National Gallery, London (Photo courtesy of the National Gallery)
Madonna and Child with four Angels, Saints Dominic, Agnes and seven Prophets (c. 1312/15) by Duccio, National Gallery, London (Photo courtesy of the National Gallery)
Portrait of a Lady with a Squirrel and a Starling (probably Anne Lovell) (c. 1526–28) by Hans Holbein the Younger, National Gallery, London (Photo courtesy of the the National Gallery)
Portrait of Erasmus (1523) by Hans Holbein the Younger, National Gallery, London (Photo courtesy of the the National Gallery)
The Ambassadors (1533) by Hans Holbein the Younger, a double portrait of Jean de Dinteville, French Ambassador to the court of Henry VIII of England, and Georges de Selve, Bishop of Lavaur. The painting is famous for containing, in the foreground, at the bottom, a spectacular anamorphic, which, from an oblique point of view, is revealed to be a human skull. An Azerbaijanian vishapagorg rug is on the table., National Gallery, London (Photo courtesy of the the National Gallery)

England's greatest repository of Old Masters paintings, with works by Leonardo, Botticelli, Rembrandt, Monet, Degas, and more

This huge neoclassical edifice on the north side of Trafalgar Square houses some of the finest works the 13th to 20th centuries have to offer.

To start with the oldest paintings (which I recommend), enter via the modern Sainsbury wing, way off to the left of the main entrance.

The works include paintings by the Titans of the Italian RenaissanceLeonardo da Vinci's Virgin of the Rocks, one-third of Paolo Uccello's Battle of San Romano, Botticelli's erotic Venus and Mars, Michelangelo's unfinished Entombment, and Raphael's Portrait of Pope Julius II along with several early Madonnas and a lovely, very early Crucifixion. That plus several canvases by that moody baroque master of chiaroscuro, Caravaggio

El Greco's Agony in the Garden hangs alongside works by other Spanish greats Goya and Velázquez.

Not to be left out, the northern European schools are represented by the likes of Rubens, Vermeer, and a pair of Rembrandt self-portraits.

The 19th-century Brits hold forth with Gainsborough, Constable, and Turner, but are outdone by impressionist masters Monet, Degas, Renoir, Seurat, and Cézanne.

My favorite hidden treasures are da Vinci's huge drawing of the Virgin and Child, in an antechamber off the first room, and Hoogstraten's masterful optical illusion Peepshow.

National Gallery Tours
 

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Tips

How long should I spend at the National Gallery?

I'd take at least 2–3 hours—but then again, I am a huge fan of art.

The mildly curious will spin through the highlights in 90 minutes or so.

Free tours & talks!

The National Gallery offers free tours and talks.

  • Daily 60-minute tours leave at 11:30am and 2:30pm, with additonal 4pm tour on weekends and a 7pm tour on Fridays.
  • Ten-minute talks about indivudal paintings are held at 4pm Monday to Friday.
  • Lunchtime talks at 1pm most Mondays and Wesnesday (sometimes also on other days) offer 30– to 45–minute lectures on individual paintings or themes. Check the website for a schedule.
Take an audio tour

Free guided tours are available, but to set your own pace, donate £4 to carry along the excellent and informative digital audio tour.

(I know pretty much every museum has audio tours these days; I'm just pointing out that this one is really worth it—especially since you got in for free, so the £4 is peanuts.)

Bring a bag, you have to pay

While admission is free, only tiny purses and bags are allowed inside the gallery. If you have a backpack, you'll have to check it for £1–£2 (depending on size).

Good museum café

The on-site National Cafe is surprisingly excellent—for museum chow at least.