Anthony van Dyck (1599 – 1641)

Portrait of François Langlois (1589 – 1647) London, probably early 1630s Oil on canvas 97.8 x 80 cm This engaging portrait depicts François Langlois (1589-1647), an engraver, art dealer and publisher, who lived in Florence and Rome in the 1620s, where he presumably met Van Dyck. In 1634 he settled in Paris. He is dressed … Read more

The Studio of Francisco de Zurbarán (1598-1664)

Saint Marina (Margaret) Seville, possibly the 1630s Oil on canvas 160 x 107 cm Saint Marina, also known as Margaret, was martyred at the beginning of the fourth century.  Marina is traditionally depicted with the dragon, the devil in disguise, which she killed. This is a much simpler representation, in her role as shepherdess, with … Read more

Hendrick Cornelisz. van der Vliet (1611/2-1675)

A Grotto in an Imaginary Landscape Delft, Holland, 1643 Oil on wood 54.7 x 90.2 cm Vliet specialised in painting church interiors and this is his only known landscape, though such scenes were popular with his Dutch contemporaries. The grotto is a curious hybrid, partly natural and partly man-made with elements carved from the rocks.  … Read more

Bernardo Strozzi (1581 – 1644)

The Head of an Old Woman Genoa, the 1620s Oil on canvas 48.3 x 38.8 cm This startling image is a study of old age made from a model, rather than being a commissioned portrait.  Such character studies were occasionally painted by artists as the basis for biblical or mythological subjects which included elderly people. … Read more

Attributed to José Campeche y Jordán (1751 – 1809)

Portrait of a Lady San Juan, Puerto Rico, about 1800-05 Oil on canvas  105 x 85 cm Acquired in 1940 as a portrait by the great Spanish artist Francisco Goya of his mother, this attribution has long been dismissed – along with the authenticity of two accompanying letters, also supposedly by Goya, that mention the … Read more

Matthias Stom (about 1600 – after 1652)

Isaac Blessing Jacob Sicily, about 1635 Oil on canvas 136.5 x 182 cm The old and blind Isaac summons his eldest son Esau to prepare his meal and receive a blessing. His wife Rebecca substitutes her favourite son Jacob who wears goat-skin gloves in order to resemble his hairy brother.  He steps forward gingerly whilst … Read more

Jan Steen (1625/6 – 1679)

The Wrath of Ahasuerus Leiden, Holland, about 1671-3 Oil on canvas 129 x 167 cm King Ahasuerus rises in fury as his wife Esther reveals the treachery of his chief minister Haman, who cringes to the left. According to Bible, Haman plotted to massacre the Jews in the Persian empire.  Queen Esther summoned the two … Read more

Jacob van Ruisdael (1628/9-1682)

A Woodland Landscape Probably Amsterdam, the early 1660s Oil on canvas 61 x 84.5 cm The Dutch landscapist Jacob van Ruisdael painted many types of landscape, including numerous woodland scenes.  In this comparatively open example a drover pauses as his animals cross a river; beyond the bridge, a flock of sheep graze a meadow. In contrast … Read more

A Follower of Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640)

The Head of a Young Woman Antwerp, perhaps 1640s Oil on wood 56.5 x 48.8 cm This painting was purchased as a study by Rubens of his second wife Helena Fourment.  However, research shows that both the title and the attribution are wrong.  The head was probably copied from the female figure in Frans Rubens … Read more

Peter Paul Rubens (1577 – 1640)

A Portrait of a Carmelite Prior Antwerp, about 1616 Oil on wood 79.5 x 65.5 cm A man dressed in the austere habit of the Carmelite order prays in front of a crucifix.  The order was dedicated to contemplative prayer.  The man’s identity is not known, but his rapt gaze and the sympathetic treatment of … Read more

Peter Paul Rubens (1577 – 1640)

A Landscape in Flanders Mechelen, near Antwerp, about 1635-40 Oil on wood 89.8 x 133.8 cm This slightly elevated view shows the countryside around Het Steen, the castle that Rubens bought in 1635.  Here he painted landscapes for his own pleasure, away from the demands of wealthy and powerful patrons.  In this case, he painted … Read more

A Follower of Harmensz. Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669)

An Old Warrior Holland, the 1650s Oil on canvas 74.7 x 64.6 cm This painting was purchased as a Rembrandt at a time when the role of his studio was little understood.  The confusion was reinforced by a false signature and date, since removed. The painting certainly reflects Rembrandt’s style of the 1650s with its … Read more

MATTIA PRETI (1613 – 1699)

The Martyrdom of Saint Peter Naples, the late 1650s Oil on canvas 194.5 x 194.3 cm According to tradition, Saint Peter, Christ’s closest disciple and the first pope, chose to be crucified upside down to avoid comparison with his master.  Here, the two executioners, shown with brutal realism, heave the cross upwards.  One looks directly … Read more

NICOLAS POUSSIN (1594 – 1665)

Tancred and Erminia Rome, about 1634 Oil on canvas 75.5 x 99.7 cm Tancred, a Christian warrior, lies wounded after slaying the giant Argantes, shown to the right.  Tancred is helped by his squire and by Erminia, a Saracen princess, in love with the Christian knight.  She cuts off her hair to bind his wounds.  … Read more

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617 – 1682)

The Marriage Feast at Cana Seville, about 1672 Oil on canvas 179 x 235 cm Christ performs his first miracle, turning water into wine. Murillo has depicted the Biblical episode as if taking place in his own city of Seville. Servants fill Sevillian water pots, while a boy in a decorative orange-red tunic looks on … Read more

Pieter Molijn (1595-1661)

A Landscape with a Huntsman Haarlem, Holland, possibly the 1640s Oil on wood 33 x 54.6 cm This beautifully preserved landscape is typical of the artist’s panoramic views with their spacious open skies.  The huntsman in the foreground and the church in the distance are the only incidents in a relatively featureless landscape.  Interest depends … Read more

Jan Miel (1599-1664) and Alessandro Salucci? (1590 – about 1660)

The Arch of Constantine, Rome Rome, the mid-1640s Oil on canvas 126.3 x 175.2 cm The Roman Arch of Constantine (315 AD) is viewed from near the Colosseum, with the modern facade of Saint Gregory the Great seen in the centre.  The great monument has been stripped of its grandeur, acting as a gateway to … Read more

The Master of the Games (17th Century)

Soldiers Playing Cards Paris, the early 1650s Oil on canvas 85 x 114.3 cm A group of off-duty soldiers play cards in their barracks, their weapons temporarily set aside.  The artificial light casts long shadows and picks out their clothes and faces, hinting, perhaps, that we are looking at a group of portraits. The painting … Read more

Nicolaes Maes (1634 – 1693)

A Portrait of a Lady Amsterdam, the mid-1670s Oil on canvas 113.6 x 89.5 cm The identity of this fashionably-dressed woman posed in a landscape is not known.  The costume and her hairstyle suggest a date from the mid-1670s, after Maes had moved to Amsterdam and when he took up painting society portraits.  Maes had … Read more

MELCHOIR D’HONDECOETER (1636-1695)

A Hen with Chicks, a Rooster and Pigeons Amsterdam, about 1675 Oil on canvas 96.5 x 78.7 cm Hondecoeter was the most important specialist bird painter of the day.  Here, he typically combines a faithful depiction of different species, based on a striking technique, with a subtle characterisation of the birds. Each chick has a … Read more

JAN DAVIDSZ DE HEEM (1606 – 1683/4)

A Still Life with a Nautilus Cup Leiden, Holland, 1632 Oil on wood 77.5 x 64.7 cm The objects are arranged to demonstrate the artist’s skill in showing the play of light on different materials. The focus is a precious drinking cup made from a nautilus shell.  Around it, in a carefully planned disorder, are … Read more

Aert de Gelder (1645 – 1727)

Ahasuerus and Haman Dordrecht, Holland, the early 1680s Oil on canvas 138.5 x 116.8 cm King Ahasuerus (as known as Xerxes) listens to the evil promptings of his first minister Haman.  According to the biblical story, Haman plotted a massacre of the Jews in the Persian empire.  Here, he seeks to poison the king’s mind … Read more

Claude Gellée, called Claude Lorrain (about 1604/5 – 1682)

A Pastoral Landscape Rome, 1645 Oil on canvas 101.5 x 134 cm The subject of this serene landscape is the mythical Golden Age.  A shepherd teaches a girl to play the pipes, his herds grazing safely behind, all living in harmony with nature.  Claude’s exhaustive studies of the Roman countryside enabled him to paint such … Read more

Aelbert Cuyp (1620 – 1691)

Huntsmen Halted Dordrecht, Holland, the early 1650s Oil on canvas 92.7 x 130.8 cm It has been suggested that the huntsmen might be the three sons of Cornelis van Beveren, a diplomat and wealthy patron from Cuyp’s home town of Dordrecht. However, there is insufficient evidence for this. They wear fashionable Hungarian hunting costume and … Read more