At the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

An astonishing collection of masterpieces. Make sure to see the room with paintings by Rogier van der Weyden! And if you can't get there in person, virtually explore the museum with Smarthistory as your guide.

Some background

videos + essays

Link to the Gemäldegalerie's website

Frans Hals, <em>Malle Babbe</em>
Frans Hals, Malle Babbe

In this complicated image, Hals investigates madness. The rapidity of his brushwork heightens the viewer’s unease.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, <em>The Dutch Proverbs</em>
Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Dutch Proverbs

Tiles of pie? Spilt porridge? You have to laugh. For all its morality, this painting makes light of human foible.

Johannes Vermeer, <em>The Glass of Wine</em>
Johannes Vermeer, The Glass of Wine

This gorgeous painting is rich in color—and with possibility. Can the woman stay sober? Will the man succeed?

Frans Hals, <em>Singing Boy with Flute</em>
Frans Hals, Singing Boy with Flute

A feather in his cap—this painting shows off the bravura technique and immediacy of action for which Hals is known.

Giotto, <em>The Entombment of Mary</em>
Giotto, The Entombment of Mary

Hooked thumbs, pressing elbows, open mouths—these details lend intimacy and reality to an otherwise formal scene.

Hans Holbein the Younger, <em>The Merchant Georg Gisze</em>
Hans Holbein the Younger, The Merchant Georg Gisze

This merchant is a man of business, yet as Holbein reminds us, the material world isn’t all there is.

Petrus Christus, <em>Portrait of a Young Woman</em>
Petrus Christus, Portrait of a Young Woman

Who’s that girl? We know so little about this portrait, but mystery only adds to its appeal.

Jan van Eyck, <em>The Madonna in the Church</em>
Jan van Eyck, The Madonna in the Church

Light floods this church from the north. Impossible? That depends on how you see it. To van Eyck, it was visionary.