At the National Gallery, London

Virtually explore the National Gallery with Smarthistory as your guide

Some background

videos + essays

Link to the National Gallery's website

The carpet and the globe: Holbein’s <em>The Ambassadors</em> reframed
The carpet and the globe: Holbein’s The Ambassadors reframed

Everything seems so perfect... Hang on, what’s that in the foreground? And why is that lute string broken?

Gentile Bellini, <em>Portrait of Sultan Mehmed II</em>
Gentile Bellini, Portrait of Sultan Mehmed II

Gentile Bellini's portrait of Mehmed II has been re-interpreted and understood many times since it was produced nearly 550 years ago.

Carlo Crivelli, <em>The Annunciation with Saint Emidius</em>
Carlo Crivelli, The Annunciation with Saint Emidius

What are Persian carpets, a peacock, and a cucumber doing in a painting of The Annunciation?

Anthony van Dyck, <em>Equestrian Portrait of Charles I</em>
Anthony van Dyck, Equestrian Portrait of Charles I

A portrait of the cultivated, but deeply flawed, politically inept, and unlucky King Charles I, who ended his days beheaded on a scaffold.

The question of pregnancy in Jan van Eyck’s <em>Arnolfini Portrait</em>
The question of pregnancy in Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait

Van Eyck’s enigmatic and iconic double portrait often prompts the question: is the female figure pregnant?

John Constable, <em>The Hay Wain</em>
John Constable, The Hay Wain

Landscape painting was considered lowly subject, but Constable gives them the six-foot treatment.

Thomas Gainsborough, <em>Mr. and Mrs. Andrews</em>
Thomas Gainsborough, Mr. and Mrs. Andrews

With its relaxed poses and outdoor setting, this portrait exemplifies the “conversation piece.” But is it finished?

Paul Cézanne, <em>Bathers (Les Grandes Baigneuses)</em>
Paul Cézanne, Bathers (Les Grandes Baigneuses)

The subject matter of this painting couldn’t be more traditional, but its formal characteristics make it modern.

William Hogarth, <em>Marriage A-la-Mode</em>
William Hogarth, Marriage A-la-Mode

Smooth talkers, vain aristocrats, disreputable doctors, unfaithful lovers—Hogarth’s moralizing takes no prisoners.

<em>The Wilton Diptych</em>
The Wilton Diptych

Hinged together, these two panels stage Richard II’s audience with the Virgin and Christ Child. Count the angels!

Jan van Eyck, <em>Portrait of a Man in a Red Turban (Self-Portrait?)</em>
Jan van Eyck, Portrait of a Man in a Red Turban (Self-Portrait?)

“As I can.” On the frame to this portrait, the painter humblebrags—and establishes his place in history.

Bronzino,<em> An Allegory with Venus and Cupid</em>
Bronzino, An Allegory with Venus and Cupid

Riddle me this. Bronzino’s allegorical painting is one of the most disturbing and curious in all of art history.