Lonely Planet review
With some 2300 European paintings on display, this is one of the richest art galleries in the world. There are seminal paintings from every important epoch in the history of art from the mid-13th to the early 20th century, including works by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Titian, Van Gogh and Renoir.
The modern Sainsbury Wing on the gallery’s western side houses paintings from 1260 to 1510. Here you will find largely religious paintings commissioned for private devotion (eg the Wilton Diptych ) as well more unusual masterpieces such as Botticelli’s Venus & Mars and Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait .
The High Renaissance (1510–1600) is covered in the West Wing where Michelangelo, Titian, Raphael, Correggio, El Greco and Bronzino hold court; Rubens, Rembrandt and Caravaggio can be found in the North Wing (1600–1700). Notable are two self-portraits of Rembrandt (age 34 and 63) and the beautiful Rockeby Venus , by Velázquez.
The most popular part is the East Wing (1700–1900), with great works by 18th-century British artists such as Gainsborough, Constable and Turner, and highbrow Impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces by Van Gogh and Monet.
The comprehensive audioguides (£3.50) are highly recommended, as are the free one-hour introductory guided tours that leave from the information desk in the Sainsbury Wing daily at 11.30am and 2.30pm, and at 7pm Friday. There are also special trails and activity sheets for children. The National Dining Rooms have high-quality British food and an all-day bakery.