Despite the current lockdown, the National Gallery has remained open online, continuing to bring the nation’s gallery into the nation’s homes. In fact, they’re open 24/7, providing everyone with access to great art at anytime, anywhere in the world. And they’ve shared the top 20 most viewed paintings online.
As part of its interweb offering the National Gallery has programmes which explore the various ways people can look at and respond to art from their homes including exploring the collection online, creative workshops, art talks and films.
450 year journey
The selection takes audiences on a journey spanning over 450 years, from a merchant family’s home in 15th- century Bruges (The Arnolfini Portrait, 1434) to Monet’s garden in 19th century Giverny (The Water-Lily Pond, 1899). The 20 most viewed pictures are just a fraction of the masterpieces that form the Gallery’s collection of over 2,300 works.
There has been a rise in audience interaction with painting pages overall. These pages provide an in-depth look into the story behind each work with text descriptions and video content.
They also allow the viewer to zoom in for a closer look – not unlike the experience of standing in front of a painting in the gallery, leaning in to focus on a particular section or inspecting a certain element in greater detail.
Layers of insight
Whether revisiting beloved favourites or discovering these masterpieces for the first time, the painting pages help guide the viewer and provide new layers of insight. As institutions that engage with both the individual and the community, museums and galleries have an important role to play in times of crisis.
Whether online visitors seek out the thrilling rush of Turner’s Rain, Steam and Speed or the still, luminous interior of Vermeer’s A Young Woman standing at a Virginal, there is little doubt that art can provide solace and reassurance in a challenging historical moment.
Dr Gabriele Finaldi, director of the National Gallery, says: ‘It is revealing that Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait and Holbein’s Ambassadors are the pictures most people have looked for online. Both are indoor scenes with very dressed up people and I am wondering whether they reflect our own experience of being enclosed in our homes during lockdown but yearning to go out and celebrate!
‘Even with the Gallery doors closed all our masterpieces are available online for everyone to enjoy.’
The top 20 most viewed paintings online are:
- The Arnolfini Portrait, 1434 – Jan van Eyck
- The Ambassadors, 1533 – Hans Holbein the Younger
- Sunflowers, 1888 – Vincent van Gogh
- The Fighting Temeraire, 1839 – Joseph Mallord William Turner
- The Virgin of the Rocks, about 1491/2-9 and 1506-8 – Leonardo da Vinci
- Rain, Steam, and Speed, 1844 – Joseph Mallord William Turner
- The Rokeby Venus, 1647-51- Diego Velázquez
- Surprised!, 1891 – Henri Rosseau
- Bacchus and Ariadne, 1520-3 – Titian
- The Hay Wain, 1821 – John Constable
- Venus and Mars, about 1485 – Sandro Botticelli
- The Water-Lily Pond, 1899 – Claude Monet
- Bathers at Asnières, 1884 – Georges Seurat
- The Supper at Emmaus, 1601 – Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio
- Marriage A-la-Mode: 1, The Marriage Settlement, about 1743 – William Hogarth
- A Young Woman standing at a Virginal, about 1670-72 – Johannes Vermeer
- An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump, 1768 – Joseph Wright ‘of Derby’
- Niccolò Mauruzi da Tolentino at the Battle of San Romano, probably about 1438-40 – Paolo Uccello
- A Wheatfield, with Cypresses, 1889 – Vincent van Gogh
- The Sultan Mehmet II, 1480 – Gentile Bellini
top image: Jan van Eyck, Portrait of Giovanni(?) Arnolfini and his Wife (The Arnolfini Portrait), 1434, Oil on oak © The National Gallery, London
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