How to Read a Painting.  understanding symbolism & iconography, at the National Gallery of Ireland

This is our well-known, highly enjoyable and convivial yet hugely high-value fine art tour; the subject of scores of rave reviews on TripAdvisor and elsewhere. This event explores the National Gallery collection. For the general yet intellectually curious visitor, it helps answer important questions concerning how to interpret and understand old master paintings.  See more below.

How does it work?   We will look at somewhere between 12 and 18 paintings in penetrating detail, helping you learn some of the arcane skills of reading symbolism in paintings. Such symbols include religious iconography from French and Italian Renaissance masterpieces, recognizing essential visual ingredients of popular subjects in historic religious art (such as the Annunciation, Holy Family, Lamentation, Assumption and other, oft-depicted stories) and learning how to recognize the key attributes (identifying symbols) of the frequently depicted religious/ biblical stories and characters. Developing these skills helps to add huge pleasure and interest when looking in future at Art,  whether in the great museum collections of North America,  Europe and the world or in old churches in France, Italy,  Belgium or Spain.

What type of Art?   our tour features a thought-provoking selection of old master paintings from the 1300s, 1400s, and 1500s including Italian Pre-Renaissance, Quattrocento and High Renaissance (from Paulo Uccello to Andrea Mantegna and Filipo Lippi)  as well as Art from France from the 1400s to the 1600s (Vuet, Claude and others)  and from the 17th Century Golden Era of Dutch Art (the time of Rembrandt, Jan Steen, van Ruisdael and Vermeer). As well as religious saints and symbols we’ll also glance at some of the best-known tropes of classical mythology,  and see how artists use symbols to help viewers identify mythological characters and subjects too. 

How to Book,

This tour is run as a public tour from 2- 4 times per year,  when, like all our public tours,  it’s naturally open to all.   If any of these “How to Read a Painting ” tours are currently scheduled, then they will appear in the listings on our Public Tours Page.   If you live in Dublin,  and are primarily interested in our Public tours, then by far the best way to hear about them is to sign up to the monthly newsletter.

Alternatively, we also offer and run the tour as a private activity for your own, private group, on a date of your own choosing.  Please use the green button to select your date and to book your own private How to Read a Painting tour.  Thank you.

Visit the Gallery at Night (the Thursday evening tour)   The How to Read a painting Tour is also available, like both our NGI tours, as a Thursday evening tour.  18.00-20.00.  Meeting just inside the Merrion Square door.  Please use the green button to select your time and date,  to book your own private How to Read a Painting tour.  Thank you.

For public tour inquiries please go here.



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