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Courtauld Gallery

MUSEUM GUIDE

Ashmolean

National Gallery of Ireland

Burrell Collection Tate Britain

Scottish National Gallery

National Gallery

Tate Modern

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2060 Pollokshaws Rd Glasgow, G43 1AT

BURRELL COLLECTION

Open: Monday-Thursday, Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Friday & Saturday 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Head of Sekhmet 18th Dynasty, around 1360 BCE Sekhmet is a lion-headed Egyptian goddess associated with destruction. It is Egyptian legend that her breath created the desert. Her name means "she who is powerful." Many statues of Sekhmet were found in a mortuary temple for King Amenhotep III who greatly revered the goddess. Look for the style and details of this sculpture created almost 700 years ago. The Thinker Auguste Rodin Often used to depict philosophy, Rodin’s Thinker represents a man carefully pondering an inward struggle. Rodin, a French sculptor, was originally criticized for breaking from traditional classical styles and themes. He created a new mantra of realism in his subjects. Look for how the forward hunch of The Thinker adds to the contemplative mood of this piece. The Charity of a Beggar at Ornans Gustavae Courbet Courbet was the French artist who pioneered the Realist movement. He dedicated his work to depicting social issues; his paintings of peasants were considered a vulgur subject matter not fit for recognition. In Charity of a Beggar, look for how Courbet gives voice the common man but does not glorify his situation.

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The Mound, Edinburgh, EH2 2EL

THE SCOTTISH NATIONAL GALLERY

Open: Monday-Thursday, Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Friday & Saturday 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The Virgin Adoring the Sleeping Christ Child, 1490 Sandro Botticelli Botticelli, a Florentine painter of the early Renaissance, exhibited a delicate, graceful style in much of his work. Posthumously, Botticelli was ignored until late in the nineteenth century. Atypical for the time, this painting was created on canvas, and Christ is shown sleeping. Look for the symbolism of the beautifully crafted plants (for example, the rose bower as an Old Testament symbol for Mary). Lady Agnew of Lochnaw, 1892 John Singer Sargent American-born Sargent became the pre-eminent portrait painter of his day. Lady Agnew, with her direct gaze, informal pose, and flowing dress, first made a name for Sargent as a gifted portraitist. Look for how Sargent’s brushstrokes seem completely nonrepresentational and haphazard when viewed up close, but when viewed from a distance, the fabric appears as clear as if it were photographed. The Honourable Mrs. Graham, 1775-1777 Thomas Gainsborough Gainsborough, an English landscapist and portraitist, was the favorite portrait painter of the royal family, and he received many royal commissions, including ones to paint the king and queen. Here, the full-length portrait allows Gainsborough to fully show his talent. The dress and accessories in this eighteenth-century painting hearken back to the elegance of the seventeenth century. Look for how Romantic and Classical elements clash in the volatile sky and the straight lines of the column.

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Self-Portrait, aged 51, c. 1657 Rembrandt van Rijn Rembrandt, the greatest Dutch painter, left over eighty images of himself in paintings, drawings, and etchings. His meticulously realistic style makes these works a revealing record of the changing fortunes and the natural aging process in the artist’s life. Here we can read time’s markings. Look for details that show Rembrandt had faced both personal and financial trials by this point in his life. A Hind’s Daughter, 1883 Sir James Guthrie Guthrie, a Scottish painter, was mainly self-taught. He lived most of his life in the Scottish Borders and painted this work in a small village where he spent one winter. Here a small girl harvests a cabbage, a staple of the diet of a hind (farm laborer) and his family. She seems merged with her landscape as Guthrie employs a monochromatic palette. Look for the square brush strokes. The Letter of Introduction, 1813 Sir David Wilkie Scottish artist Wilkie traveled widely in Europe and learned from everywhere he visited. He was a careful observer and recorder of his experiences. This painting tells a story masterfully. It is based on Wilkie’s own experience, arriving in London with a letter of introduction. The young man is awkward, the dog wary, and the gentleman suspicious and intimidating. Look for how your eye is drawn from the darker bookcases toward the lighter back corner and then around to the foreground of the painting.

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Trafalgar Square London WC2N 5DN

NATIONAL GALLERY

Open: Daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Fridays 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Closest tube stops:Charing Cross (Northern and Bakerloo lines), Piccadilly (Piccadilly and Bakerloo lines), Leicester Square (Northern and Piccadilly lines) A Young Woman standing at a Virginal, 1670-1672 Johannes Vermeer Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer is known for his carefully crafted use of light. Only thirty-four of his paintings survive today, so seeing one is a rare treat. In this painting, a young woman highlighted by the light filtering in through the window plays a Virginal, or type of harpsichord. Look for the paintings on the wall behind her, references to actual works of art. Bacchus and Ariadne, 1520-1523 Titian Titian is the most important Venetian painter of the sixteenth century, and his hallmarks are his luminous, vibrant colors. In this image, Bacchus, god of wine, jumps toward Ariadne, enchanted by her beauty. Look for the stars in the sky; it’s legend that Bacchus threw Ariadne to the heavens, creating a constellation.

Bathers (Les Grandes Baigneuses), 1894-1905 Paul Cézanne Post-Impressionist Paul Cézanne is said to be the bridge between Impressionism and Cubism. Later in his career, Cézanne dedicated much of his time to painting bathers, calling back traditions of Titian and Poussin while pioneering a new style. Look for elements that could be considered cubist—like the exaggerated outlines of the figures and the boxy background.

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Bathers at Asnières, 1884 Georges Seurat Seurat depicts swimmers at Asnières, an industrial suburb west of Paris. This is Seurat’s first large scale canvas and was completed before Seurat discovered his pointillist style; however, he later reworked parts, adding his well-known dabs of color. Look for the points of paint on the young bather’s orange hat. Bathers at La Grenouillère, 1869 Claude-Oscar Monet Monet, perhaps the most famous Impressionist painter, depicts a popular boating and bathing establishment. His fluid image is indicative of the Impressionist style. Both he and close friend and fellow Impressionist Auguste Renoir painted La Grenouillère on an outing together. Look how seemingly haphazard brushstrokes create the reflection of the trees above. Equestrian Portrait of Charles I, 1637-1638 Anthony van Dyck Flemish born Anthony van Dyck became the leading court painter of England for Charles I. Much of his work, like this Equestrian Portrait, consists of grand images of the king, although van Dyck also painted many themes dedicated to mythology. Look for the loose landscaped background, so typical of the English style for this time. Madame Moitessier, 1856 Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres Ingres, a French neo-classicist was renowned for his history paintings. Considering historical events the superior subject matter, he originally turned down the Moitessier commission; however, on meeting Madam Moitessier, Ingres was struck by her beauty and accepted the commission. Look for Moitessier’s reflection in the mirror, which adds an interesting angle to a seemingly conventional portrait. Self Portrait at the Age of 34, 1640 Rembrandt van Rijn The self-portrait was a common image that Rembrandt chose to work with. Possibly the most famous Dutch painter in history, Rembrandt even reached fame as an artist while in his lifetime. Since Rembrandt lived to the age of 63, this portrait is a portrayal of Rembrandt in the meridian of his life. Look for the facial expression Rembrandt has chosen to depict for himself.

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Sunflowers, 1888 Vincent van Gogh For a time van Gogh lived with Gauguin in the South of France. Van Gogh’s sunflower paintings were created to decorate Gauguin’s room. Look for the thickly layered (impasto) paint. Van Gogh’s technique realistically recreates seed-heads.

The Ambassadors, 1533 Hans Holbein the Younger Known as one of the greatest portraitists of the sixteenth century, Holbein depicts two wealthy young men. On the table between them lie symbols of science, education, and religion. Look for the distorted skull at the bottom of the painting, symbolizing mortality; stand to the right to see the distortion corrected. The Arnolfini Portrait, 1434 Jan van Eyck One of the most referenced works in art survey classes, van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait depicts a marriage ceremony. Almost every object in this painting has symbolism—from the dog representing fidelity in marriage, to the vibrant green dress promoting fertility. Look for the mirror centered in the back of the room; even the artist can be seen in its perfect reflection. The Baptism of Christ, 1450s Piero della Francesca This Renaissance work is interesting because of how Catholicism has influenced the artist. Notice how the River Jordan filters out to dry ground, where Christ stands being sprinkled with water (traditional Catholic baptism) rather than being baptized by immersion (as accounted in the Bible). Look for how the dove, symbolizing the Holy Ghost, is foreshortened, making it the shape of a cloud. The Battle of San Romano, 1438-1440 Paolo Uccello This image depicts a grand battle between Florence and Sienna. It is one of three panels that currently reside in three different museums; the other two are in the Louvre, Paris, and the Uffizi, Florence. Uccello is known for championing the early Renaissance style of one-point linear perspective. Look for the foreshortened corpse and broken lances that highlight this technique.

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The Entombment, 1500-1501 Michelangelo Artist of the Sistine Chapel and the David, Michelangelo never considered himself a painter but a sculptor. In this unfinished painting, Christ is being carried to the tomb. Look for the unfinished parts of the painting; the front right corner is an outline of where the Virgin would have been depicted. The Hay Wain, 1821 John Constable Renowned for his British landscapes, Constable often chose to paint scenery from his own backyard. For example, The Hay Wain depicts a mill owned by Constable’s father. Constable argued that artists who painted the terrain they knew best created superior art. Since Constable was known for scientific-like accuracy with his skies, look for how he captures the clouds. The Madonna of the Pinks (‘La Madonna dei Garofani’), about 1506-1507 Raphael Possibly inspired by a Leonardo painting, Raphael captures a tender moment between mother and child. This small painting was created to be a piece for Christian contemplation—so small the viewer could hold it in his or her hands. Look for the emotional energy between the Christ Child and his mother; earlier paintings depicted this holy scene more stiffly and ceremoniously. The Virgin of the Rocks from Panels from the S. Francesco Altarpiece, Milan, about 1491-1492 and 1506-1508 Leonardo da Vinci The original commission Leonardo received for this work was for an oratory, or prayer room, in Italy; however, when completed, the work was sent to France. The image here is a duplicate Leonardo recreated to put in the originally promised location. Look for how the figures make a triangle with their forms—Leonardo was known for his meticulous composition. Venus and Mars, about 1485 Sandro Botticelli

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After a very profitable apprenticeship with Fra Filippo Lippi, Botticelli enjoyed patronages from manyprominent families in Florence. Venus and Mars was probably commissioned as a headboard or wainscoting. Here Mars, god of war, is sleeping in front of Venus, god of love—symbolizing how love conquers war. Look for how the fauns make light of war by playing with Mar’s weaponry and armor.


Located in Somerset House 150A Strand, Charing Cross, London WC2R 0RN

THE COURTALD GALLERY

Open: Daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Fridays 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Closest tube stops:• Temple (Circle and District lines), Charing Cross (Bakerloo and Northern lines), Embankment (Bakerloo, Circle, District and Northern lines), Covent Garden (Piccadilly line) The Seilern Triptych: The Entombment, 1425 Attributed to Robert Campin This triptych shows the progression of the Passion: the empty cross on the left, the entombment in the middle, and the resurrection on the right. It was originally meant to sit on an altar with the panels slightly angled so Christ’s resurrected form made eye contact with the kneeling Mary of the center pane Look for the carefully crafted plants in the gold background: red currants referring to Mass and the Eucharist, gourds symbolizing the Resurrection. Landscape with the Flight into Egypt, 1563 Pieter Bruegel the Elder Flemish Renaissance painter Pieter Bruegel was know for his lively peasant scenes and landscapes; however, in Flight into Egypt, Bruegel takes a more reverent tone as he depicts the Holy Family fleeing to Egypt. Notice how the mountain surroundings look more like the Alps, Bruegel’s native land, than terrain actually found on the road to Egypt. Look for the narrow footbridge in the left corner, placed to emphasize theperilous journey being undertaken. The Descent from the Cross, 1611 Peter Paul Rubens The Descent depicted here is a preliminary drawing for a commissioned altarpiece to be erected in Antwerp. The emotionally charged figures--St. John the evangelist in red, Mary Magdalene in the bottom center, and the Virgin Mary in blue--carefully take the Savior down from the cross. Look for the contrast of Christ’s pallid foot against Mary Magdalene’s robust and living shoulder, which emphasizes death and life.

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A Bar at the Folies-Bergere, 1881-1882 Edouard Manet Perhaps one of Manet’s (considered the father of Impressionism) most recognized works, Bar at the Folies-Bergere depicts a typical scene of Parisian life at the time. The subject blankly stares forward to a customer shown in the reflection. Look for thediscrepancies between the actual image and the reflection; where could that man be standing? La Loge, 1874 Pierre-Auguste Renoir Renoir was a contemporary of Monet and a pioneer in the Impressionist style. This painting depicts the artist’s brother and a model known as Nini Lopez. They sit in a theater box, a very popular subject for painters at this time, the woman staring forward waiting to be admired, and the man gazing off to admire those in other boxes. Look for what Renoir chooses to paint loosely, the fabric of her dress, and what he chooses to paint in detail, the light hitting her strand of pearls. The Madonna of the Pinks (‘La Madonna dei Garofani’), about 1506-1507 Raphael Possibly inspired by a Leonardo painting, Raphael captures a tender moment between mother and child. This small painting was created to be a piece for Christian contemplation—so small the viewer could hold it in his or her hands. Look for the emotional energy between the Christ Child and his mother; earlier paintings depicted this holy scene more stiffly and ceremoniously. Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear, 1889 Vincent Van Gogh Here Van Gogh depicts himself with a bandaged ear after being released from the hospital for treatment. Van Gogh mutilated his own ear after an angry dispute with fellow artist Paul Gauguin. Look for the Japanese print hanging behind Van Gogh. Artists at this time loved and collected prints from Japan.

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Bankside, London SE1 9TG

TATE MODERN

Open: Daily 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., extended hours on Friday, Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Closest tube stops: Southwark (Jubilee line), Mansion House (District and Circle line), St Pauls (Central line) The Snail, 1953 Henri Matisse Because of poor health, after 1948 Matisse was confined to his bed. Determined to continue creating, Matisse would cut large shapes out of paper covered in gouache (opaque water-color) and have them glued down by an assistant under Matisse’s direction. The Snail is an example of this process. Look for how some of the edges appear ripped—Matisse did not always take the time to use scissors. Red on Maroon, 1959 Mark Rothko Black on Maroon is one of nine paintings originally created for the Four Seasons, New York. Upon completion, Rothko felt the panels were too oppressive, and he withdrew the commission. Rothko later presented this body of work to the Tate Modern. Look for how these works are displayed in a dim room, set to recreate the restaurant feel they were originally commissioned for. Man Pointing, 1947 Alberto Giacometti Sculptor Alberto Giacometti was a key player in the Surrealist art movement. Man Pointing was constructed rapidly before Giacometti’s first exhibition. Look for how Man Pointing’s left arm is almost embracing another figure. (Originally Giacometti meant this piece to have a companion that would fit into this statue’s arms.)

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Painting, 1927 Joan Miró Part of both the Fauvist and Surrealist movements, Miró championed his own style of creative imagery. He claimed his art emerged directly from the unconscious. Objects in Miró’s work were simplified shapes to represent something larger and more concrete. Look for how the white shape could represent a horse.

Mandora, 1909-1910 Georges Braque Along with Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque helped create Cubism. In thispainting, Braque paints a mandora, or stringed instrument like a lute. The fragmented style suggests rhythm and reverberation, furthering the musical theme. Look for the disjointed pieces that might make the mandora whole.

Fish, 1926 Constantin Brancusi Renowned sculptor Constantin Brancusi was a Romanian who lived in Paris. He was an avid carver as a child and is known for his ability to combine the rude materials of a peasant with the avantgarde techniques of Paris. Look for how the abstract form on top of the mirror resembles the lines of a fish.

Metamorphosis of Narcissus, 1937 Salvador Dalí Surrealism was a movement that emphasized the subconscious. Inspired by Freud, Dalí delved deep into the mind for his subject matter and here depicts the story of Narcissus in a hallucinatory manner. Look for how Dalí depicts Narcissus, in the right corner, before he has seen his reflection, depicted again in the front.

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Millbank, London SW1P 4RG

TATE BRITAIN

Open: Daily 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., extended hours Friday 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Closest tube stops: Pimlico (Victoria line), Westminster (Jubilee, District and Circle line), Vauxhall (Victoria line) Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose, 1885-1886 John Singer Sargent Sargent, an American, lived most of his life in Europe and is considered the most important portrait painter of his time. This painting was one of the few Sargent created out of doors (in the plein air Impressionist manner). He worked on it over many months during the short time each evening when the light was just right. Look for how Sargent uses warm colors to make paint turn to light. The Cholmondeley Ladies, 1600-1610 British School 17th century The artist of this painting is unknown, but it seems it was painted near the Cholmondeley family estate and is typical of British artistic style at this time. According to an inscription on the painting, the ladies are Cholmondeley family members who were born the same day, married the same day, and gave birth the same day. This pose does not appear in any other known British painting. Look for differences in the clothing and the eye colors of the ladies. Little Dancer Aged Fourteen, 1880-1881, cast about 1922 Edgar Degas French artist Edgar Degas is renowned as both a painter and a sculptor, and dancers are the subjects of more than half his works. This sculpture was originally created out of wax, with actual fabric clothes and real hair. Decades later, after Degas’ death, his heirs created twenty-eight bronze casts of the original. The tutu is dipped gauze, and each of the twenty-eight tutus is unique. Look for the expression on the young dancer’s face—what does it show of her dedication to her craft?

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Merry-Go-Round, 1916 Mark Gertler Gertler, British born of Polish immigrants, lived an unsettled life emotionally. During the period in which he created Merry-GoRound, the major painting of his career, he hardened his human figures, making them more geometric. Although this painting is now seen as a strong anti-war statement prompted by World War I, when the painting was first exhibited, viewers and critics saw it as just a decorative piece. Look for the contrast between the demeanor of the soldiers and the general public riding the merry-go-round. An Iron Forge, 1772 Joseph Wright of Derby
 Wright, who spent most of his life in his native Derby, embraced an interest in the developing technology of the Industrial Revolution, becoming its champion in his painting. Wright’s dignified treatment of the common blacksmith and his family expresses the worth of hard work. Look for the marked contrast in light and dark that glorifies the blacksmith and his new machinery. The Opening of Waterloo Bridge, exhibited 1832 John Constable
 Constable’s devotion to painting landscapes of the region around his home has resulted in that Dedham Vale area being known as Constable Country. But in this painting, Constable, a devoted royalist, commemorates a triumphant historical event. Constable once said that in a landscape, the sky is “the key note.” Look for how Constable draws attention to the bridge by darkening the foreground and depicting spectacular clouds. A Man in a Black Cap, 1545 John Bettes Not much is known about Bettes, who worked for Henry VIII. The oldest painting in the Tate collection, Man in a Black Cap bears the signature of the artist, which is unusual for paintings of this time. Many feel the painting shows the influence of Hans Holbein the Younger. Look for the brownish background, which was originally a deep blue created from a pigment called smalt that fades over time in light. Distant View of Maecenas’ Villa, Tivoli, 1756-1757 Richard Wilson Wilson, the greatest Welsh painter, is known as the father of British landscape painting. He began as a portrait painter, but during a trip to Italy, converted to landscapes. Here he portrays the villa of Maecenas, who was a wealthy patron of the arts in classical Rome. Look for how the villa exemplifies both the luxury of Roman culture at its height and the beginnings of the decline of Rome.

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The Bay of Baiae, with Apollo and the Sibyl, exhibited 1823 Joseph Mallord William Turner Turner, highly regarded in his own day, bequeathed to Britain his collected works, hoping they would be kept together and displayed in a special gallery. That has not happened, but the Tate Britain has many of his paintings. This work tells the story of Sibyl, who was granted life but not eternal youth. Look for how the Roman architecture shows the effects of time, but the lan scape’s beauty shines undiminished, a contrast that emphasizes Sibyl’s plight. Endymion Porter, about 1642-1645 William Dobson Seventeenth-century painter William Dobson was one of the very first noteworthy English-born artists. He rose in the court of Charles I, even going into exile with Charles at Oxford. He painted many courtiers and members of the royal family, including this portrait of Endymion Porter, a prominent courtier, shown here in a pose taken from a portrait by Titian. Look for the light and shadows and how different qualities of light illuminate the faces in the painting. Totes Meer (Dead Sea), 1940-1941 Paul Nash British-born Nash worked as an official war artist for the country during World War I. A pioneer of modernism, Nash showed the horrors of war, often in a surrealist style. He based Totes Meer on photographs he took of a heap of wrecked aircraft, saying “the thing looked . . . like a great inundating sea,” but “nothing moves . . . it is static and dead.” Look for shadows that emphasize the eeriness of the scene.

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Beaumont Street, Oxford OX1 2PH

ASHMOLEAN

Open: Tues - Sunday 10am - 6pm Landscape with Ascanius Shooting the Stag of Sylvia, 1682 Claude Lorrain Seventeenth-century Italian artist Claude Lorrain gained fame as a landscape and seascape artist, distinguishing himself as one for whom the landscapes—not the figures in his paintings—were most important. He told purchasers of his paintings that he was selling them the landscape and throwing in the figures for free. This painting, Claude’s last, depicts a scene from Virgil’s Aeneid, in which Ascanius incites war by mortally wounding Sylvia’s tame stag. Look for the references to columns, the family emblem of the Colonna family for whom Claude created the painting. Water Meadows near Salisbury, 1829 John Constable Constable’s landscapes enhance the beauty of ordinary scenes in nature. He loved to paint scenes from places close to his home, here depicting a landscape familiar to him because of frequent visits to his good friend, the archdeacon of Salisbury. Look for the characteristic thick impasto and little dabs of red paint.

Lado di Piediluco, Umbria, 1826 Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot Nineteenth-century French painter Corot is considered one of the handful of greatest landscape painters ever. Here he paints a view of Lake Piediluco, north of Rome, on a summer day. Look for the muted palette, characteristic of Corot, and different from later Impressionist painters, who embraced vivid colors.

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Landscape at Pontoise, 1872 Camille Pissarro Pissarro is the only artist who exhibited his work at all eight Paris Impressionist exhibitions. He is considered a father figure to the most important artists of both the Impressionist and post-Impressionist movements. This painting shows Pissarro’s love for depicting real scenes in rural France. Look for the thin, lively brush strokes, which illustrate Monet’s close association with Pisarro at this time. The Gathering of Manna, 1740s Giovanni Battiste Tiepolo Tiepolo is primarily known for his fresco work, and the eighteenth-century Italian artist was sought out to create grand frescoed ceilings in Germany and Spain as well as his native Italy. This work is one of five smaller copies of a much larger work that still resides in the Italian church where it was painted. Look for the luminosity in the work, a trait of Tiepolo’s style that distinguished him from his contemporaries. The Annunciation, 1420s Paolo Uccello Fifteenth-century artist Paolo Uccello was a pioneer in focusing on visual perspective in art. His works were distinguished from those of his contemporaries because he used perspective to give his works depth. This image also shows his interest in color and pageantry. Look for the gold and ultramarine in the painting, substances that would have made this work very expensive to produce.

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Merrion Square West Dublin, Co.

NATIONAL GALLERY OF IRELAND

Open: Daily 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., extended hours Thursday 9:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Christ in the House of Martha and Mary, 1628 Jan Brueghel the Younger and Peter Paul Rubens Brueghel, son of a well-known Flemish painter, is best known for his vast landscapes. Rubens, also Flemish, is a major example of the extravagant Baroque style. These two artists collaborated on this work, with Brueghel painting the landscape and still-life, and Rubens painting the figures. Usually this familiar Bible story is portrayed as an interior scene. Look for how the exterior perspective influences the emphasis—peaceful surroundings contrasting the activity in the foreground. The Taking of Christ, 1602 Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio Caravaggio burst on the Italian art stage in 1600 and occupied a starring role for the rest of his life. His realistic paintings of the human state, combined with his dramatic use of chiaroscuro (highly contrasted dark and light), distinguish him as an artist. Here Caravaggio avoids defining a setting by filling the painting with figures. Look for how only the moon lights the scene. Little Dancer Aged Fourteen, 1880-1881, cast about 1922 Edgar Degas

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French artist Edgar Degas is renowned as both a painter and a sculptor, and dancers are the subjects of more than half his works. This sculpture was originally created out of wax, with actual fabric clothes and real hair. Decades later, after Degas’ death, his heirs created twenty-eight bronze casts of the original. The tutu is dipped gauze, and each of the twenty-eight tutus is unique. Look for the expression on the young dancer’s face—what does it show of her dedication to her craft?


The Cottage Girl, 1785 Thomas Gainsborough Gainsborough, an eighteenth-century English painter, focused on portraits and landscapes, admitting himself that he preferred landscapes. Artist John Constable described Gainsborough’s works as poetic, and we can feel the story portrayed in this painting. Look for the luminous skin of the child, so typical in Gainsborough’s portraits. A Convent Garden, Brittany, 1913 William John Leech Leech, a Dublin-born painter, loved French landscapes. Here he depicts the garden of a hospital where he once convalesced. The painting contains both large brush strokes indicative of Leech’s interest in Impressionism and detailed drawing work in the figure of the girl. He also contrasts the girl’s stillness with the moving leaves and grass. Look for how the sunlight fills the garden and falls on the fabrics and lace. Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sailboat, 1874 Claude Monet Monet, the most prolific Impressionist painter, unknowingly gave the movement its name when he titled one of his paintings Impression, Sunrise. Argenteuil was a town on the River Seine just fifteen minutes from Paris, and many painters came to the area to work. Monet’s focus in this painting is the effect of the light on the Seine’s surface. Look for which colors Monet uses for his brushstrokes to depict light on the water. Still Life with a Mandolin, 1924 Pablo Picasso Spaniard Pablo Picasso was perhaps the most influential artist of the early twentieth century. He, along with Georges Braque, created Cubism, and this painting illustrates key traits of Cubism— objects broken apart and then reassembled into abstract forms viewed from numerous vantage points. Here Picasso paints a fruit bowl, bottle, and mandolin, sitting on a red tablecloth. Look for the numerous patterns Picasso incorporates into his painting, showing a decorative influence from Henri Matisse. The Lamentation over the Dead Christ, 1657 Nicolas Poussin French-born Poussin lived much of his adult life in Rome, where he embraced a classical style in opposition to the decorative Baroque style popular in his time. Tragedy and death are often themes in Poussin’s works, as illustrated here in his painting of the moment just before Christ is put into the tomb. Look for Mary’s upright figure in contrast to the other mourners, and notice the colors and expression Poussin uses to make Jesus’ mother the primary embodiment of grief.

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Landscape with the Rest on the Flight into Egypt, 1647 Rembrandt van Rijn Rembrandt, celebrated as the most gifted of the Dutch artists, uses many Biblical or mythological subjects in his works. Here he treats the Holy Family on their journey to Egypt. Interestingly, the family is only a small part of the painting, and the brooding dark landscape predominates. This is Rembrandt’s only nightscape. Look for the multiple light sources in the painting. Woman Writing a Letter, with her Maid, 1670 Johannes Vermeer The canon of Vermeer’s paintings is small, but his gift for portraying domestic scenes is breathtaking. His attention to realistic detail proves how slowly and carefully he worked. The light cast through the window in this painting exemplifies Vermeer’s much regarded masterful portrayal of light. Look for how Vermeer uses a vanishing point to draw attention to the letter writer, and look for the contrast of agitation and calm in the two women’s demeanors.

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