Francois Cidilla Bonvin (1817 – 1887)

The Attributes of Painting Paris, about 1879 Oil on canvas 49.4 x 60.5 cm This still life depicts the materials used in its making – including palette and brushes, tubes of paint, a portfolio of drawings, an inkwell and a paintbox.  The French artist Bonvin painted the objects in the direct and uncompromisingly physical manner … Read more

Giovanni Bellini (about 1430 – 1516)

Saint Jerome in the Wilderness Venice, about 1460 Tempera on wood 44 x 22.9 cm Saint Jerome (died 419) was a scholar who translated the Bible into Latin.  He also retired to the wilderness and lived the secluded of a hermit.  According to legend, he removed a thorn from the paw of a lion who … Read more

Hippolyte Bellange (1800-1866)

The Entry of Bonaparte into Milan Paris, about 1822/4 Oil on canvas 44.4 x 60.3 cm Napoleon Bonaparte’s triumphal entry into Milan in May 1796 occurred during a military campaign which saw the rapid conquest of much of the Italian peninsular.  Bellangé was commissioned to provide an illustration of the event for a biography following … Read more

Domenico Beccafumi (1484 – 1551)

Reclining Nymph (Venus and Cupid) Siena, about 1519 Oil on wood 71.7 x 13.8 cm This panel formed part of the decoration of the bedchamber of Francesco Petrucci of Siena and his wife Caterina Piccolomini.  It was used as the headboard of the bed.  The figure appears to be a water nymph, but she has … Read more

Jacopo da Ponte, called Bassano (about 1510 – 1592)

The Adoration of the Magi Bassano, near Venice, the end of the 1560s Oil on canvas 94.3 x 130 cm The three kings, or Magi, approach the infant Christ with their gifts.  Despite their worldly wealth, they bow to Christ who is acclaimed as the King of Kings.  The setting in a ruined classical building … Read more

Edouard Manet (1832 – 1883)

A Portrait of Carolus-Duran Montgeron, near Paris, 1876 Oil on canvas 191.8 x 172.7 cm Manet painted this study of the portraitist Emile-Auguste Carolus-Duran (1838 – 1917) when staying at a patron’s country estate near Paris.  The two artists were old friends and they agreed to paint each other.  Carolus-Duran is shown in riding boots … Read more

GIUSEPPE CESARI (1568 – 1640)

Saint Lawrence Among the Poor and Sick Rome, about 1588 Oil on canvas 61.5 x 73.5 cm The painting represents four episodes from the life of Saint Lawrence (died 258) painted by Guiseppe Cesari, known the Cavaliere d’Arpino. To the right, he heals a kneeling widow.  In the centre a blind man is cured and … Read more

Attributed to Giovanni Baronzio (worked from 1326 – about 1362)

The Angel of the Annunciation (top) The Nativity and the Annunciation to the Shepherds (centre) The Adoration of the Magi (bottom) Rimini, second quarter of the 14th century Tempera on wood 44.3 x 20.3 cm (including frame) This devotional panel, burnt by the heat of altar candles, formed the left wing of a pair. The … Read more

BERNARDO CAVALLINO (1616 – 1656)

Saint Catherine of Alexandria Naples, the end of the 1640s Oil on canvas 71.7 x 59 cm Saint Catherine holds the martyr’s palm on top of part of her spiked wheel.  She was sentenced to be crushed on the wheel by the Emperor Maxentius because she had condemned the worship of pagan idols.  According to … Read more

GIOVANNI BENEDETTO CASTIGLIONE (1609 – 1664)

Rebecca Led by the Servant of Abraham Rome, about 1650 Oil on canvas 150 x 194.5 cm Rebecca is shown  on horseback, making the journey to meet her future husband Isaac. She turns to address Abraham’s servant, who, according to the Old Testament, was guided by God to find Isaac a wife. The composition involves … Read more

ROSALBA CARRIERA (1675-1757)

A Portrait of Gustavus Hamilton, 2nd Viscount Boyne (1710 – 1746) Venice, about 1730 – 1 Pastel, heightened with white bodycolour on paper 597 x 476 mm This striking portrait of Lord Boyne shows him in Venetian carnival dress, wearing a fine ermine trimmed coat, a bauta or lace veil, black tricorn hat and a … Read more

Attributed to Christoph Amberger (about 1505-1561/2)

A Portrait of a Man Augsburg, Germany, about 1530/40 Oil on wood 59.8 x 50.2 cm The identity of this elderly man has been lost, though the ring on his right hand suggests that he may have been a humanist scholar.  It probably originally formed a pair, with an image of his wife to the … Read more

VALERIO CASTELLO (1624 – 1659)

The Madonna and Child, with Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Appearing to Saint Bruno in a Vision Genoa, about 1650 Oil on canvas 118 x 145.5 cm Saint Bruno (about 1030 – 1101) is shown in the white habit of the Carthusian monks whose order he founded. In his vision he sees the Virgin and … Read more

Claude Monet (1840 – 1926)

The Church at Varengeville Varengeville, Normandy, 1882 Oil on canvas 65 x 81.3 cm The view is across a hidden gorge to the isolated cliff-top church at Varengeville.  Monet painted various subjects along the Normandy coast in the summer of 1882.   His practice was to work simultaneously on up to eight canvasses, moving from … Read more

DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI (1828-1882)

The Blue Bower London, 1865 Oil on Canvas 84 x 70.9 cm Fanny Cornforth, the artist’s mistress, was the model for this striking image. The cornflowers at the front refer to her name and the passion flowers suggest her fiery character.  But the image is more a hymn to beauty than a portrait.  A bower is … Read more

René Magritte (1898-1967)

The Flavour of Tears Brussels, 1948 Oil on canvas 59.4 x 49.5 cm Surrealist paintings stir the imagination by subverting our expectations and transgressing boundaries. To this beguiling mixture Magritte adds a disturbing reality that we know from our dreams. Here, a totem-like bird assumes the form of a tobacco leaf. The birdleaf is consumed … Read more

Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788)

The Harvest Wagon Bath, exhibited 1767 Oil on canvas 120.5 x 144.7 cm A group of rustic figures travel in a harvest wagon at the end of the working day. The figures are unusually prominent for Gainsborough’s landscapes and are the result of careful study. Two of the women are based on the artist’s daughters … Read more

Jan Gossaert (about 1478–1532)

Hercules and Deianira Possibly Antwerp, 1517 Oil on wood 36.8 x 26.6 cm The classical hero Hercules is shown embracing his wife Deianira. Their seat is decorated with images of his heroic exploits, including the defeat of the Nemean lion and his victory over Antaeus. Their erotic encounter, however, is doomed. Deianira sits on the … Read more

Evaristo Baschenis (1617-1677)

A Still Life with Musical Instruments Bergamo, North Italy, about 1660 Oil on canvas 95.5 x 129 cm A dramatically-lit group of objects demonstrates the artist’s mastery of illusion. Note the dust on the lute, to the right, and the sumptuous folds of the curtain above. The painting is an example of a Vanitas, a … Read more

ELISABETH VIGÉE-LEBRUN (1755-1842)

Portrait of Countess Golovina Moscow, about 1797/1800 Oil on canvas 83.5 x 66.7 cm Countess Golovine sweeps up her shawl and looks at us with startling candour. Vigée-Lebrun met and befriended Varvara Nikolaevna Golovina (1766–1821) in Russia in the late 1790s during the artist’s exile from revolutionary France. She described Golovina as a ‘charming woman’ who … Read more

JOHAN CHRISTIAN DAHL (1788–1857)

A Mother and Child by the Sea Dresden, 1840 Oil on canvas 21 x 31 cm A mother and child welcome home a fishing boat, presumably containing the child’s father. The combination of the magical light effect and the fact that so much remains hidden encourages different interpretations. Dahl’s father was a fisherman in Norway … Read more

EDGAR DEGAS (1834-1917)

Jockeys Before the Race Paris, exhibited 1879 
Oil, essence, bodycolour and pastel on paper 107.3 x 73.7 cm Degas’ racing pictures generally concentrate on the undramatic moments before the start. Here, the starting-post bisects the composition, creating an instantaneous effect, suggestive of a snapshot. Figures and horses are obscured, cut by the frame and shown … Read more