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, with several days notice,  the How to Read a Painting tour is generally available as a private tour on most weekday afternoons.  It is also often available with enough notice as a private evening tour  (Thursday nights only, subject to availability 6pm-8pm)    The galleries are beautifully quiet and peaceful this time of the evening,  offering perfect viewing conditions, and the chance to discuss the artworks in a relaxed and highly enjoyable atmosphere.  To request a tour please use the contact form, and if you are requesting an evening tour please make sure you date is a Thursday.  The contact form can be accessed here.

Fees:  Daytime + weekday tours:  €220 booking fee, which also covers the first 4 people, then add + €25 per/person after 4.  (5 people Daytime + weekday tours, €245; 6 =€270, etc.

Tours at Weekends and.or at Night (the Thursday evening tour)    Please add €30 supplement for a Thursday night booking or weekend booking, if less than 6 people are attending.  (Events with more than 6 people attending are exempt from evening time and weekend supplement)

How to Read a Painting is one of our deluxe tours, but we think you will find the experience more than worthwhile.   Unless you are a trained Art Historian we’re confident you will rarely if ever have been assisted to look at or think about paintings in the same depth of detail before.  Nor to have such fun or interest at the same time.  Guests tend to rave about this tour afterwards.  Come and find out why.

There is one public art tour scheduled for this period: insider treat, visit the Sir Denis Mahon archive, plus Italian Baroque tour of the National Gallery of Ireland. from 2.30 Thursday 08 March 2018. Tickets below. To request your own private art tour, see contact form at foot of page. Archive and Gallery public tour tickets below.


Upcoming Tours – How to read a painting – February 15th at 6pm




Please note we will not be able to answer inquiries regarding public tours submitted below. This contact form is exclusive to order your own private tour.  Private tours cost from €180- €250 (for your entire group, not per individual).  Large groups and corporate tours may cost more.  Hotel meets and pick-ups may cost extra.  Exact quotation on the supply of your date, numbers, and details, please.  All marked fields required.
Please note we will not be able to answer any inquiries on public tours submitted below. For public tour inquiries please go here.

How to Read a Painting Contact Form

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