National Gallery Visit

The National Gallery is a great gallery all the pieces displayed are incredible works of art. Each piece tells a story which has meaning and the deeper you look into the details in each piece the more of the story you see.

On this visit to the Gallery, we had a guide who walked us through a group of paintings and discussed the use of light and how it helped the story being told. This talk was very interesting and as the guide said in the very being of the talk it’s only after talking about a painting for a while do you really see all the details that tell the story in the painting.’ This is true. You can look at a painting and only see the image in front of you, it is only when you start to analysis the piece and really look at all the different elements that you see the deeper meaning.

Each of the paintings that we looked at on the guided tour told a story and the use of lighting within the painting helped to define the stories being portrayed. It was very interesting to look at the paintings and discuss the different elements in detail. The use of lighting in paintings from what I could see was to help illuminate and define key elements within the painting to help the viewer see the story being told.


Samson and Delilah by Peter Paul Rubens 

For example, the painting above lighting in the scene is coming from three obvious sources – the torches coming from the doorway, the candle the old women is holding and the lantern on the left edge of the frame. Each of the different points of light help illuminates the image in a different way. The use of light in this painting plays a very big part in the overall outcome of the whole piece. Each of the key lighting sources that can be seen in the painting. Lighting key elements of the story being told.

the story being told in the painting is:

‘Samson, the Jewish hero, fell in love with Delilah. She was bribed by the Philistines, and discovered that his strength came from his hair which had never been cut. While he was asleep it was cut, Samson was drained of his strength and the Philistines were able to capture him. (Old Testament, Judges 16: 17-20). Rubens depicts a candlelit interior; the Philistines wait at the door, one of their number cuts Samson’s hair, while an elderly woman provides extra light. In a niche behind is a statue of the goddess of love, Venus, with Cupid – a reference to the cause of Samson’s fate.’ – National gallery 

little details in the painting help portray some of the emotions linked with the story. for example, the way Delilah has her hand placed on Samson’s shoulder could be seen as her feeling regretful over what she was doing to the man she potentially loved. How every it could also be read that she is keeping her hand on his shoulder to keep him still while his strength is being cut away from him.

Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851)

  Rain, Steam and Speed – The Great Western Railway, 1844   img_5711    ‘A steam engine advances across a bridge in the rain. In front of the train, a hare runs for cover. The scene has been identified as the railway bridge over the Thames at Maidenhead. The picture demonstrates Turner’s ability to capture atmospheric
effects in paint.’

Description from the National Gallery

Another painting that I liked from the National gallery was the painting above. I found it interesting as at first glance it looks like an abstract painting using mainly bright/white clouds. But after looking closer and discussion into the piece I could see a train seeing towards the bottom right hand corner. The further you look into the different elements of the painting the more you see. With this painting you see the contrast of new and old, fast and slow. When Joseph Mallord William Turner created this paint the great British railway was a new technology only just being explored and developed. This painting shows the contrast in Technology and how with this development the pace of the world was being to speed up.

This visit to the gallery defiantly opened my eyes to the use of light and how it can create depth in a painting. I can see why many in the film and TV industry go to galleries for inspirations, directors, designers alike. Films and TV programmes in my opinion are each a work of art, all the scenes are planed, designed and framed to create a specific emotion mood or feel for the story being told. Paintings and photographs can be a very useful references when trying to create a particular style for a film, they can also help explain to others the look that you have in mind and help them understand your wave length and process better.

When ever I go to a gallery I always buy postcards of some of my favourite piece of art that I see, while at the gallery. In the photo below are the postcards that I bought on this visit to the National gallery.


Link to The National Gallery website:


Opening times:                                                  Link to directions on google maps:



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