A Closer Look At Art | Portraiture

Learn more about key concepts in Western European art history and gain further insight into the paintings and artists showcased in the National Gallery, London collection with our A Closer Look at Art campaign.

Each week we will be sharing an extract from an A Closer Look guide that explores a foundational subject or theme in painting, from landscapes to portraiture, along with links to free National Gallery, London resources so that you can discover even more about the artwork and artists you are introduced to.

Week 1: Portraiture

In this extract from A Closer Look: Faces, Alexander Sturgis teaches us about the importance of pose, props and position in masterful portraits from the National Gallery collection; including The Ambassadors by Hans Holbein the Younger and Madame de Pompadour at her Tambour Frame by François-Hubert Drouais.

Read this extract on issuu here.


Additional Resources & Further Reading from The National Gallery, London

Additional Resources
Holbein’s extraordinary ‘Ambassadors’ (YouTube)
Holbein’s Ambassadors: theories, questions and what you need to know (YouTube)
Rembrandt: The power of his self portraits (YouTube)
Ingres’s Madame Moitessier | Talks for All (YouTube)
Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait (YouTube)

Further Reading
A Closer Look: Faces by Alexander Sturgis
Renaissance Faces: Van Eyck to Titian by Lorne Campbell et al
Facing the Modern: The Portrait in Vienna 1900 by Gemma Blackshaw et al

Further Reading from Yale University Press

The Elizabethan Image: An Introduction to English Portraiture 1558 to 1603 by Sir Roy Strong
An Introduction to Art by Charles Harrison

Blog Featured Image: Quinten Massys. An Old Woman (‘The Ugly Duchess’). About 1513. © The National Gallery, London. Bequeathed by Miss Jenny Louisa Roberta Blaker, 1947.

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