• Features: Victoria’s biggest and best art gallery
  • Opening Times:  10am to 5pm, Wed-Mon
  • Best Time to Visit: Anytime
  • Duration: 2 to 3 hours
  • Transport Options: Train, tram
  • Cost: FREE or Paid
  • Address: St Kilda Road, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  • Type: Art gallery

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Comprising of an international and an Australian arm, the National Gallery of Victoria is one of the largest and most impressive art galleries in Australia. Read this article for interesting facts, history and the top exhibits you must see at the National Gallery of Victoria.

Best Exhibits You Must See at National Gallery of Victoria Melbourne


Comprising of an international and an Australian arm, the National Gallery of Victoria is one of the largest and most impressive art galleries in Australia. Its permanent collection includes works from all over the world; its visiting exhibitions are world-class. Its Australian arm contains the largest collection of Australian art in the country.

If you’re planning a visit to the National Gallery of Victoria continue reading for interesting facts, history and the top exhibits you should see at the National Gallery of Victoria.



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The National Gallery of Victoria comprises of two buildings – the National Gallery of Victoria International (NGVI) and the National Gallery of Victoria Australia (NGVA) also known as the Ian Potter Centre. The international collection can be seen at 180 St Kilda Road; the Australian collection is housed at Federation Square.

The NGVI houses one of the largest and widest ranging collections of international art in Australia. The first public art gallery in Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria opened in 1861 and housed the original State Museum. The gallery moved to St Kilda Road in 1968. Its collection of both Old Masters and contemporary Australian art are outstanding. It holds works from renowned international painters, including Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Picasso, Renoir, and van Gogh. It also hosts international blockbuster exhibitions.



History of National Gallery of Victoria International

The history of National Gallery of Victoria began in 1861, when it opened as part of the Public Library building on Swanston Street. In 1968 the Gallery established its current home in the Roy Grounds-designed NGV International building on St Kilda Road, which was extensively renovated by Mario Bellini from 1999 to 2003. Throughout its 150-year history the NGV has become a much-loved cultural icon of Melbourne.



Interesting Facts About the National Gallery of Victoria

  • The Museum of Art, now the National Gallery of Victoria, opened in 1861 as part of the Public Library on Swanston Street
  • Alfred Felton’s generous bequest transformed the NGV Collection in 1904
  • In 1905, the NGV became one of the first public galleries in the world to acquire a French Impressionist painting
  • Designed by Sir Roy Grounds, the NGV building on St Kilda Road opened in 1968
  • In 2013, the NGV landmark exhibition Melbourne Now presented 400 artists to 753,000 visitors
  • Today, the NGV Collection contains over 68,000 works of art and approximately 87% of its records are available for viewing across three levels
  • Giambattista Tiepolo’s The Banquet of Cleopatra (1743-44) is the most important painting in the NGV Collection



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National Gallery of Victoria Collections


Permanent Collections

The National Gallery of Victoria’s permanent collection spans in date from Antiquity (4000 BC) to the present day, and includes art from all around the world. The Gallery has a collection of international standing that has been largely created through the generosity of its many supporters. One key donor was Sir Alfred Felton, whose bequest in 1904 has enabled the NGV to acquire more than 15,000 artworks, including works by Rembrandt, Tiepolo, Monet, Blake and Turner.

The NGV Collection contains over 68,000 works of art and approximately 87% of its records are available for viewing across three levels.


Temporary Collections

Apart from a range of temporary shows highlighting the collection, this is also the place where visiting international blockbuster shows are hung. The Winter Masterpieces are some of the best exhibitions in the country. Crowds for these are huge and the queues long.



National Gallery of Victoria Floor Layout


Ground Level (Temporary exhibitions)

  • Great Hall
  • NGV Shop
  • Persimmon Restaurant
  • Gallery Kitchen
  • Toilets


Level 1 (Permanent exhibitions)

  • The Tea Room
  • China
  • South & Southeast Asia
  • Japan
  • 14th – 16th C Art & Design

Through to Mezzanine via up ramp


Mezzanine M

  • 16th – 17th C Art & Design
  • Asian Temporary Exhibitions


Level 2 (Permanent exhibitions) 

  • The Ancient World
  • 17th – 18th C Art & Design
  • 19th – 20th C Art & Design
  • Decorative Arts Passage

Through to Mezzanine via down ramp


Level 3 (Temporary exhibitions) 

  • Modern & Contemporary Art & Design



Top Exhibits at the National Gallery of Victoria




Great Hall 

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The highlight of the Great Hall is the exquisite stained-glass ceiling from Paris designed by Leonard French. The ceiling comprises 224 glass triangles weighing 300 kilograms each cut into thousands of pieces. On the walls of the Great Hall you will see Roger Kent’s abstract arts which were woven at the Australian Tapestry Workshop in Park Street, South Melbourne. The Great Hall is often used for fundraising functions for the gallery.



Foyer Highlight

The foyer (known as Federation Court) of the NGV has a temporary exhibit that showcases a unique piece of modern art from around the globe.


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Carlos Amorales: We’ll See How All Reverberates (8 Aug – 8 Nov)

This interactive installation by Mexican artists Carlos Amorales includes three mobile sculptures with suspended copper cymbals that are inspired by the mid-twentieth century modernist forms of Alexander Calder.

Visitors are invited to become experimental performers and produce sound and movement within the work. This is a great place for kids to bang on and create different decibels of sound.





14th – 16th Century Gallery – Painting & Decorative Arts


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Agnolo Gaddi: Madonna and Child with Saint John the Evangelist, Saint John the Baptist, Saint James of Compostela and Saint Nicholas of Bari (c. 1388-1390)

This is an early Agnollo Gaddi tempera and gold on wood panel painting from the 14th century. This panel formed the central scene in a private altarpiece. Painted by Agnoli Gaddi, a gifted follower of Giotto, it shows the Florentine Gothic style at its most refined. The work’s bittersweet pathos is also distinctively Gothic.

Here we have the Madonna and the Christ child. The painting is in humanist style. If you look at Virgin Mary’s face, she seems to be looking into the future; she seems to know what’s going to happen to Christ. The Christ child is holding a little thorn bird in his hand. The thorn bird is well-known for pecking thorn bushes and bleeding around its beak. The thorn-dwelling finch in Christ’s hand alludes to the Crown of Thorns that Christ will later wear, while the white veil bunched in his other hand is the garment with which Mary will later wipe his tears. The selection of saints flanking the Virgin and Child probably reflects the interests of the panel’s owner. The Apostle James (upper left) was especially popular among pilgrims.

St Nicholas of Bari was a precursor the Father Christmas giving fruit to children.

St James of Compostela was martyred for his religion. He is well-known for the Compostela walk in Spain and France which has a huge pilgrims following.

Before the frame was put on you could see the timber with the holes made by borers. Today, there is a beautiful framework around the painting.

The painting was purchased by the NGV from the funds raised from a fundraising dinner in the Great Hall in 2003. It came to the NGV without the frame around it and it was on the wall for 5 years before a frame was added. In 2008, they were able to get the funds to purchase a frame similar to what was used in the 14th century.



MEZZANINE (linked to Level 1):

To deal with 30-odd years of wear and tear and the need for more flexible exhibition spaces, interior remodelling was undertaken from 1996 to 2003, overseen by Mario Bellini. The new labyrinthine design does away with the stark simplicity of the original and added a mezzanine level which leads to the back of the museum.



16th & 17th Century Gallery – Painting and Sculpture



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Dosso DOSSI: Lucrezia Borgia, Duchess of Ferrara (c. 1519-1530)

This is an oil on wood panel painting purchased in 1966 by the Felton Bequest. At the time of purchase the painter and the object was unknown to the Gallery.

This painting was originally though to be of a young man because of the instrument in his hand. Later, it was deduced that the portrait was actually that of a woman owing to the mound that can be seen around the chest. The hairstyle also indicates that she’s was a woman; men didn’t wear their hair in that fashion during the 16th century.

The woman in the portrait was a pious, young woman of wealthy means. She had a good reputation but apparently her family (brother & brother-in-law) didn’t. It was a fashion at the time for women to have their portraits taken. There was an early Lucrezia that we all know of in history who was raped and took her own life with a dagger. This is why the lady in the painting is holding a dagger in her hand.

The Latin inscription at the bottom of the painting reads – “Brighter than beauty is the virtue radiating from this beautiful body.” It’s a sophisticated adaption from the verse of Virgil’s Aeneid. So, this is implying it is a female rather than a male.

The curator deduced the artist to be Dosso Dossi as he was the only artist painting in the round format at that time. They x-rayed the layers of paint and found it to represent the way this artist painted.



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Antonio VIVARINI (Studio of): The Garden of Love (c. 1465-1470)

This oil, tempera and gold on wood panel painting was cut down from its original size. In those days it was common to resize a painting to fit in with the culture of the period. Today, this would certainly not be done. It is believed that on the right-hand side there was another figure painted which was painted out. You can see the image of what was underneath. It’s unknown why the image was taken out.

The costumes with their rich-brocades and tapestries are eye-catching. Notice the women’s hairstyles – they used to shave their hair right back to the middle of the top of their heads – which was quite fashionable in the day. Also notice the animal (cat or dog) being held by one of the women in the painting. It was quite the style for women to hold a small cat or dog in their arms.

There are many questions about this painting which have been left unanswered. Why is the woman holding a syringe in her hand? Is it to feed the cat or dog? Is this the fountain of youth? Why is the man in the painting being blindfolded?

Notice the rose garden in the background which acts like a fence. This painting is called ‘The Garden of Love’; so perhaps, as it is with roses when they bloom they’re beautiful, but a rose thorn draws blood which alludes to the fact that love can go wrong.







17th Century & Flemish Paintings Gallery



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Rembrandt (Studio of): Rembrandt (c. 1660s)

This oil on canvas painting is a portrait of Rembrandt. Between 1629 and his death in 1669, Rembrandt made thousands of drawings of his own face and dozens of painted self-portraits. Of his final self-portraits, which revealed wrinkles and tired skin, he was said to have remarked, ‘I … look for myself and recognise myself. What have I found? Death painted’. For reasons unknown – perhaps for the purpose of instruction – Rembrandt’s assistants collaborated in their master’s obsessive task of self-documentation. The Rembrandt Research Project considers this painting to belong to a group of ‘self-portraits’ that originated in Rembrandt’s workshop but are not exclusively by Rembrandt’s hand.

Notice the black frame around the painting. NGV is replacing the gold frames in the Flemish Paintings Gallery to follow the 17th century Dutch era who liked to keep things simple.



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Two old men disputing: Rembrandt (1628)

This oil on wood panel painting was painted by Rembrandt when he was 25 years old. This is a beautiful rendition of two aging men. It seems they’ve been up all night talking about the universality of all things. Notice the morning’s light coming in from the window and the extinguished candle. The visual imagery is startling. Look at the way Rembrandt has portrayed the grey hair, the crumpled up toes, and the old man’s fingers in the book.

The painting has a Vanitas theme, which is the Dutch theme – “We come, we live, we die”. The candle’s lit and then it’s extinguished; the flowers bloom and then they die. This painting has the same mantra. However, the aging men are talking which will still go on and which symbolises the universality of things.


About Rembrandt

Rembrandt was very unfortunate in his personal life. He was married twice – both his wives died early; even his son died in his 20’s. He was quite fashionable in his time and later became out of fashion. He didn’t know how to manage his estate; there were always people knocking on the door. He was literally forgotten for a couple of centuries and was only rediscovered in the last two centuries.

Rembrandt was known as a psychological painter. He would get into the psyche of people. He would show them as they were; he didn’t try to make them any better. He knew the Bible backwards and used to create a lot of Biblical paintings. He also understood aging people very well.


This painting reveals the individuality and brilliance that distinguished the young Rembrandt as Leiden’s finest artist. There has been much speculation as to the subject of this painting. It has been suggested that the two men are philosophers, possibly Hippocrates and Democritus, or the apostles Peter and Paul. However, in 1641, the painting was referred to in the will of Jacques de Gheyn III, a friend of Rembrandt, simply as ‘two little old men [who] are seated and disputing’. The presence of objects associated with learning indicates that the two are in earnest discussion, perhaps on matters pertaining to religion, life and death.



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Meindert HOBBEMA: The old oak (1662)

This oil on canvas painting was purchased in 1950 by the Felton Bequest. Notice the black frame around the painting which was added in 2003 and is based on the Dutch frame from 1659. The painting portrays a wonderful oak tree with a dark, cold atmosphere, opposite to the Italian paintings which had a bright, gold atmosphere. This painting is typical of the solidarity of the Dutch.


About Hobbema

Around 1655, Meindert Hobbema became one of the few apprentices to enter the studio of the landscape artist Jacob van Ruisdael. Ruisdael had a profound effect on Hobbema’s work, with the two artists often portraying the same scenes. Hobbema specialised in producing heavily wooden landscapes, which were romantic in character like those of his master, although Hobbema did not imbue his works with the same degree of drama or eerie atmosphere as did Ruisdael.



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Jan STEEN: The wedding party (c. 1667-1668)

Jan Steen does genre paintings which have a theme to them. Here, an aging man is pursuing a young bride and an older attendant is trying to woo a young woman. The idea is that you can’t mix age; you have to keep between yourselves. The older person will not like the frivolity of the young person and vice versa.


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Jan STEEN: Interior (c. 1661-1665)

This oil on wood panel painting focuses on the theme of cleanliness. The painting portrays the lady of the house. A cavalier is visiting the house and hanging on to her breasts while the husband sits in the corner intoxicated. The painting showcases a lot of dirt and mayhem; the house is not clean. The painting depicts the idea to be careful – if you let yourself down this is what will become of you.

Also, the houses were getting smaller as they were building a lot in the 17th century. So, the paintings at this time were small instead of the large pieces of paintings commissioned by wealthy people. This allowed them to be rolled up and taken from place to place.

The Dutch loved their art. In the 17th century, it was popular for everyone to have several pieces of art on their walls, even the butchers and candlestick makers.


This painting is well-known for its frame. The principal materials of the frame are tortoise shell and ebony on a softwood base. The chassis of the frame is a solid timber section, which is unusual but reflective of the seventeenth-century frames it imitates. The ripple-moulded decorative strips are shaped in ebony and the scotia sections are veneered. The shell is likely to be turtle and in this instance the blond colour and the grain pattern of the timber provide the underlayer of colour and subtle pattern.



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Cornelius de VOS: Mother and Child (1624)

This portrait of 1624 shows de Vos at the height of his powers. The relationship between mother and child breathes informality and affection, and their elevated social rank is denoted by the sumptuous treatment of rich fabrics and jewellery.

Notice the cross – this woman was from a Catholic household. Cornelius de Vos was a Catholic. Based on their religious beliefs, the Dutch accepted refugees that were expelled for their religious beliefs. They were allowed to come to Amsterdam and practice their religious but they weren’t allowed to have their own religious buildings at this time. Later, this was relaxed too.

Here, we have a wealthy woman from a Catholic family and her child. The lady has a pair of gloves in her hands. Have they just come in or are they about to go out? Look at the sumptuous materials – you can see that she comes from a very wealthy background. Notice the collar and the amount of work that would have gone into making it. Also notice how there is nothing in the background to detract from her face. This was an influence from Caravaggio, a prominent Italian artist.

Notice the beautiful cherries and the beautiful child. We don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl. Boys and girls wore dresses until they were seven and then they wore britches if they were a boy.


About de Vos

As a young man, Cornelius de Vos worked with the Flemish masters Rubens, van Dyck and Jordaens. A quick learner, de Vos absorbed many of his mentors innovative qualities and was already regarded as a master of formal portraiture by the age of twenty. When van Dyck and Rubens were lured away from Antwerp by foreign patrons, de Vos, who remained, became the city’s leading portrait painter.



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The Greek A Pottery, Delft (c. 1690)

Recently purchased by the National Gallery of Women’s Association in 2014, this Greek pyramidal flower vase is based on the Dutch tulip vases. The fish with their open mouths are designed to hold tulips.

The National Gallery of Women’s Association have an interest in buying Decorative Arts for the NGV.



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Thomas de KEYSER: Frederick van Velthuysen and his wife, Josina (1636)

Frederick van Velthuysen was the son of a burgomaster of Utrecht, and he and his wife, Josina, would have been among the city’s elite. He would do business with Italy so you can see all the statues and pillars. This is a pre marriage portrait because the lady is on the left of the man. They are wearing all their finery for this pre-wedding portrait. Notice the pom poms on his shoes, the pattern on his stockings and the lace is beautifully done. Unfortunately, the wife died early in the marriage but the husband didn’t remarry.


About Thomas de Keyser

In the 1630s Thomas de Keyser was the most fashionable portrait painter in Amsterdam, and his work was popular with the middle and upper classes of that city. As one of the leading exponents of portraiture at this time, de Keyser had a strong influence on other artists, including the young Rembrandt, who moved to Amsterdam in 1631. De Keyser’s paintings are characterised by a highly detailed style and by realistically painted figures posed in a rather formal manner.



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Jan Davidsz. de HEEM: Still life with fruit (c. 1640-1650)

From the 1640s, de Heem was the most important and influential still-life painter in the Netherlands. This painting belongs to an iconographic type invented by him: the pronkstilleven, or sumptuous still life. This popular type of painting enlivened rooms of many Netherlandish homes. De Heem’s technical brilliance gives the work a seductive realism. With the exception of the cherries, all the luscious fruits are from the autumn harvest, richly celebrated in this superb painting.

The lusciousness of this painting is stunning with its autumnal fruits, copper vase and Chinese blue-and-white bowl. The sensuality of the oysters and the pomegranate seeds are quite vivid. Also notice the carpet on the table. Turkish carpets were used as tablecloths at that time.



Rembrandt Cabinet


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Jacob HUYSMANS: Edward Henry Lee, 1st Earl of Lichfield, and his wife Charlotte Fitzroy as children (1674)

At the age of ten, Edward Henry Lee (1663-1716), a Catholic, was betrothed to nine-year-old Charlotte Fitzroy, the illegitimate and preferred daughter of Charles II and his mistress Barbara Villiers. At the same time, Charles created the title of Henry Earl of Litchfield. These carefully orchestrated events by Catholics in Charles’ court are commemorated by Jacob Huysmans, a Catholic painter favoured by Charles’ queen, Catholic Catherine of Braganza, and a rival of artist Peter Lely. The painting contains cryptic allusions to the Roman faith (which remained illegal despite Charles’ personal religious tolerance), such as a peacock, symbolising resurrection, and Christ as a gardener. The marriage was very happy and the couple had at least eleven children.

In the portrait, they are only nine and ten years old. In those days, they were betrothed to each other at an early age and remained separate until they were adult enough to become man and wife. The girl in the portrait was fortunate that her father, the king, actually accepted her into the household with much love.

This painting was presented to the NGV by Montage Holding Pty Ltd. It was on the NGV walls for 5-6 years before it was bequest to the NGV when Montage Holdings outgrew the painting.




17th to 18th Century European Paintings Gallery



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Anthony van DYCK: Rachel de Ruvigny, Countess of Southampton (c. 1640)

This is an unusual painting because it was painted in the same year that the woman in the portrait died in childbirth. The French-born Rachel de Ruvigny had been a widow for many years when she married Thomas Wriothesley, 4th Earl of Southampton, in 1634. She was at that time described as beautiful, virtuous and religious. She bore five children and died in childbirth in 1640. Van Dyck’s portrait shows the Countess seated above swirling clouds, her arm resting on a sphere of dark, reflective crystal, a skull at the hem of her dress. Since the skull, which recalls the vanity of earthly things, can signify that the sitter is deceased, the painting may have been completed after her death. The symbol of the skull belongs to the Dutch theme of Vanitas meaning ‘death’. The woman is wearing blue which signifies she was a very well-to-do woman as blue paint was very expensive to paint with. She is portrayed as the Virgin Mary going up to heaven which is a Biblical theme.

This is a very large commissioned portrait by Anthony van Dyck who became famous towards the end of Rembrandt’s life. He was a royal court artist.



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Nicolas POUSSIN: The crossing of the Red Sea (1632-1634)

This is the story of the Israelites who were dispelled from Egypt. The subject is drawn from the Old Testament book of Exodus and shows the moment after the Red Sea closes over the pursuing Egyptian army, thereby saving the fleeing Israelites. In the painting, Moses is seen on the right-hand side closing the sea after their escape. An Egyptian soldier is portrayed trying to get his armour out of the water while the Israelites are shown to be grateful for being saved. The black cloud in the painting is supposed to imply God. Notice the striking colours used to paint the Israelites’ garments.

This painting was commissioned by the innovative Italian art collector Amadeo dal Pozzo (1579-1644). Dal Pozzo wanted a series of works illustrating events from the life of Moses for his palace in Turin, and the French-born artist Nicolas Poussin was an ideal choice. Poussin’s work was informed by the study of classical antiquities, yet was strikingly modern through his use of colour and the complexity of his composition.

Nicolas Poussin was French but went to Italy a lot and spent many years there. He loved going to museums to look at sculptures to work out the musculature of the figures. He bought little figures in boxes to see how the light played on the figures. He wanted to get it right.



The frame around this painting is the most expensive frame at the NGV. The London National Gallery have an identical frame surrounding The Adoration of the Lambs which is also their most important frame. This French frame was added to this painting in 1710 by the then owners of the two paintings.



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Joshua REYNOLDS: Miss Susanna Gale (c. 1763-1764)

Joshua Reynolds was an English portrait painter at the top of his field who used to paint at Leicester Square in London.

Miss Susanna Gale was the daughter of a multi-million dollar sugar plantation owner and a very wealthy woman in her own right. This is called a pre-wedding portrait where the girl is in her early teens. She is propped on a pedestal with ancient-looking trees behind her. She seems to know exactly her position in life. Notice the way the artist has painted the material. He seems to know how to paint the gorgeous ruffles perfectly.



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Nathanial DANCE: The Pybus family (c. 1769)

The painting was painted on the Pybus family’s estate in England when the father returned on leave from the East Indian Company. The child on the mother’s lap is a boy as they wore dresses until seven years of age. He’s got a blue ribbon which highlights this. Also, the names of the family members are available and the boy’s name is Charles.

This painting was brought to South Australia by the Pybus family who migrated there. It was purchased by NGV in 2003 after it was offered to the South Australian Gallery who declined it.



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Jacopo AMIGONI: Portrait group: The singer Farinelli and friends (c. 1750-1752)

The artist has painted a portrait of himself and his friends. The painter died in 1752 so this was the last year of his life.

Farinelli was a singer with a strata voice. In the painting he is shown with his recognition – a medal hung around his neck. The woman in the painting is his friend, Teresa Castanelli, a singer with her music piece in front of her. The artist is painted with his assistant, the young boy. The lyricist was painted in afterwards; he wasn’t in the original painting.



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Giambattista TIEPOLO: The Banquet of Cleopatra (1743-1744)

This painting is based on the most expensive banquet Cleopatra threw in her lifetime. The man in the red cloak and helmet is Marc Antony, her lover. The woman in the orange is Cleopatra. The painting is done in the Venetian style because Tiepolo is a Venetian artist. He has used colours beautifully in this painting.

The episode represented in Tiepolo’s The Banquet of Cleopatra is drawn from the Roman historian Pliny’s Natural History (written in 77 AD). Here Pliny recounted the tale of a famous contest between the Egyptian and Roman rulers whereby Cleopatra (69-30 BC) wagered that she could stage a feast more lavish than the legendary excesses of Mark Antony (83-30 BC). Tiepolo’s painting shows the dramatic climax of Cleopatra’s sumptuous repast when, faced with a still scornful Mark Antony, she wins the wager with her trump card. Removing one of a pair of priceless pearls that adorn her as earrings, Cleopatra dissolved the pearl in a glass of vinegar and drinks it, an extravagance that causes Mark Antony to lose his bet. Besotted with one another, they became lovers, albeit doomed, immediately after this momentous event.

Notice the lacework of the tablecloth and the tall, lanky man on the left-hand side. Tiepolo painted the intruder because he liked to unsettle people. Only the middle section of the painting was painted by Tiepolo; the rest was painted by an architectural studio.
This painting was originally housed in the Hermitage. In the 1930s, Stalin told the Hermitage to sell their second-rate paintings in order to provide money for the war being fought at the time. Several paintings were sold in Trafalgar Square for large cases of money. Today, the NGV would not be able to buy a painting like this.


About Tiepolo

Tiepolo was a court painter for about 30 years and had to retire in his 70s due to ill health.



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Pompeo BATONI: Sir Sampson Gideon and an unidentified companion (1767)

This painting is a document of the Grand Tour (the traditional visit to Europe undertaken by Britain’s upper class), and is one of Pompeo Batoni’s finest portraits of an English visitor to Rome. The seated figure is Sir Sampson Gideon (1745-1824), the son of a wealthy financier of Portuguese origin. Although Sir Sampson visited Rome in 1766, the evidence suggests that this picture, dated 1767, was completed after his return to England. He is depicted showing a portrait miniature to his companion. It is presumed to represent Sir Sampson’s wife, Maria, whom he married in December 1766.






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Joseph HIGHMORE: Susanna Highmore (c. 1740-1745)

The painting of Susanna Highmore was painted by her father Joseph Highmore, an English painter, whose portrait is hung on the same wall. It took him five years to paint his daughter as he was busy with other commissions. This delightful painting of the artist’s daughter, Susanna, shows why she was known to be a provocative beauty. Susanna, who loved animals, is accompanied by her two cats and a parrot perched on a swinging ring. The billowing curtain in the background signifies that the family is reasonably well-off. The antics of Poll the parrot were described by John Hawkesworth, a family friend, in verse in April 1750: ‘Whilst Poll’s in gilded prison hung, / Singing to all (himself unsung) / Pho! Out! Fie for shame! / … Tho’ Poll’s a saucy rogue.’



19th to 20th Century Art & Design


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Andy WARHOL: Self-portrait no. 9

Andy Warhol purposely sought an alternative to the emotionally charged paintings of the Abstract Expressionists by adopting a commercial, hands-off approach to art. He borrowed images from American popular culture and celebrated ordinary consumer goods, as well as media and political personalities. He featured them in serial paintings and prints that relied on commercial silk-screening techniques for reproduction. After the early 1960s his most frequent subjects were the famous people he knew, and occasionally he was his own subject. In this eerie, self-portrait, produced just a few months before his death in February, 1987, Warhol appears as a haunting, disembodied mask. His head floats in a dark black void and his face and hair are ghostly pale, covered in a camouflage pattern of flamboyant colours.



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Pablo PICASSO: Weeping woman (1937)

The Weeping women compositions of late 1937 belong to what have been termed the ‘postscripts’ of his famous painting Guernica. The common stark motif in these disturbing images, that of a woman’s grief laid bare for public scrutiny, derived from the figure at the far left of the Guernica mural – a woman who screams uncontrollably and attempts vainly to escape the bombing, grasping her dead child to her chest. Aspects of Picasso’s turbulent love life have also been read into Weeping woman, namely, the complex web of relationships involving his former wife Olga Koklova and concurrent new lovers Marie-Therese Walter and Dora Maar.



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Pierre BONNARD: Siesta La Sieste (1900)

Siesta belongs to Bonnard’s ‘realist’ period, during which he painted frank portraits documenting his relationship with his model and muse Marthe Boursin whilst exploring the new possibilities offered by photography. Bonnard took a sequence of photographs of Marthe at their apartment when sunlight flooded their bedroom. Siesta related to those images, but not slavishly so, as Marthe’s pose has been reconfigured to evoke the Borghese Hermaphrodite, a famously erotic sculpture in the Louvre. Siesta was well-known among Paris’ literary and artistic circles and was once owned by Gertrude Stein.



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Carlo BUGATTI: Bugatti throne (1900)

The three Bugatti brothers were famous for developing the Bugatti car. Carlo Buggati also created beautiful ancient-looking furniture.






FREE Guided Tours of National Gallery of Victoria

Volunteers give up their free time every day to guide visitors around the NGV Gallery collections. If you are pressed for time or would simply like a guided tour around the NGV, take a look at the details below. Daily tours are FREE.


Daily Highlights tour (45 mins)

11am & 1pm, daily


NGV Collections tour (60 mins)

12pm & 2pm, daily


For group tours, book 2 weeks in advance online at NGV.



National Gallery of Victoria Restaurants

If walking around the Gallery is too tiring, stop at one of the three restaurants in the NGV building for a bite to eat.



This restaurant has a modern Australian menu with a strong focus on seasonal produce. It will delight all food and wine enthusiasts.

Open 11am-4pm

Bookings on 03 8620 2434


Gallery Kitchen

This café has simple, yet high quality produce and premium coffee. It’s the perfect venue for a casual lunch, or you can stop by to experience the skills of some of Melbourne’s finest baristas.

Open 10am-5pm.


The Tea Room

This exquisite tea room is a modern interpretation of a timeless tradition. Choose from a delectable array of cakes and savouries, all handmade by our team of talented pastry chefs.

Open 10am-5pm.



National Gallery of Victoria Shop

Located on the ground floor next to the exit door, the NGV shop has everything museum-related from books to posters and prints.



National Gallery of Victoria Parking

Parking is available on St Kilda Road in front of NGV International.


National Gallery of Victoria Tickets

Tickets to ticketed exhibitions can be purchased in person at the NGV International foyer or in advance online at NGV International.



National Gallery of Victoria Prices

Permanent exhibitions: Admission free

Temporary exhibitions: Paid or Free



National Gallery of Victoria Opening Hours

10am-5pm, Wed-Mon

Closed Tuesday



National Gallery of Victoria Address & Contact Details

Address: 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Phone: +61 (0)3 8620 2222 (9am-5pm, 7 days)

Website: www.ngv.vic.gov.au



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