National Gallery Tour: A Guided Crash Course with Skip-the-Line Tickets

A uniquely British curation of a sublime international collection
From US$507 privately
Book a Tour
Tour Details
3 hours
Product Type
National Gallery
Photos & Highlights
  • See eye to eye with one of the greatest collections of Western paintings in the world
  • Led by an art historian
Select a date
Tour Description
The National Gallery houses one of the greatest collections of Western paintings in the world. From a striking Northern Renaissance collection to one of Da Vinci's finest, through the Post-Impressionists, a walk through the National Gallery is akin to a stroll through the annals of western civilization's best works. This National Gallery Tour, led by an art historian, will lead us through an in-depth exploration of the Gallery, providing a sense of context and progression to this unparalleled collection.

National Gallery Tour

We begin the visit in the Sainsbury Wing, where the Gallery houses its earliest works—paintings from 1250-1510, encompassing Late Gothic, Early Renaissance, and Renaissance art. Our discussion will revolve around the development of painting, and how the context and function of works of art shaped their appearance from exquisite, jewel-like private devotional altarpieces to Raphael’s grand and spatially sophisticated Ansidei altarpiece. Our course through this wing will depend on our guide's intellectual proclivity and the interests of the group, but our focus will include such works as Paolo Uccello's The Battle of San Romano, Jan Van Eyck's Arnolfini Portrait, Botticelli's Venus and Mars, and Leonardo Da Vinci's Madonna of the Rocks.

"Really great! We had been to the gallery numerous times but our guide really gave us new insight."

A Walk through Western History

During our walk, we will stop to consider works by artists like Raphael, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci, discussing their investigations into the human figure and analyzing their use of perspective and light to achieve works of subtle psychological tension and complex but balanced compositions.

We might then move on to discuss how Baroque artists like Peter Paul Rubens and Caravaggio used compositional devices, such as the structure of the space, the presence of light and shade, and the human figure itself to create dramatic scenes. Alternatively, we could examine the expert handling of paint and subtle control of lighting effects employed by masters of the Dutch ‘Golden Age’ of the seventeenth century, whose portrayal of everyday life was unsurpassed and whose interest in the manipulation of perspectival techniques is epitomized by Van Hoogstraten’s delightful ‘peepshow’ view of a bourgeoisie interior. 

Forward in Time

Depending on the interests of the group, we can then explore other periods represented in the Gallery and consider the stylistic and technical devices employed by artists in order to achieve their specific aims, depending on the period, the fashion, or the desires of the patron. We will finish the walk in the late 1800s with works by Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Vincent Van Gogh, and other Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists. In light of the works we have considered throughout the tour, we will examine how these artists challenged the traditional conventions of depiction.

Take Aways

This personalized walk through 700 years of Western art and history will supply the visitor with not only a unique visual experience, but also an understanding of key moments, characters, and movements in the history of art.

Looking to explore more art in London? We suggest our Victorian and Albert Museum Tour, or for a more modern look, our Tate Modern Tour.


Do we go inside the venues or just see them from the outside?
The tour takes place inside the National Gallery.

Will you pre-purchase tickets?
The permanent collection of the National Gallery is free to visit, so no tickets are required, however donations are appreciated. If you are interested in seeing one of the temporary exhibitions, please indicate this in the tour notes and we will be in touch about arranging tickets (at an additional cost).

What are skip-the-line tickets?
For this tour, your tickets are pre-reserved which allows you to directly enter the security line at the Gallery without waiting. You may still have to wait in the security line. 

Is this tour good for kids?
Yes! We have some excellent family friendly experts who can appeal to the learning styles of children. If you have children under 13, you may consider our family focused, interactive tours: National Gallery Tour for Kids: A World of Stories and Family Menagerie: Animals at the National Gallery.

Is this tour suitable for visitors with mobility issues?
Yes, all the tour takes place inside the museum and it isn't a walking intensive tour. The National Gallery is fully accessible and has plenty of places to sit.
Where You'll Start
(4.86) 88 Reviews

Reviews can only be left by Context customers after they have completed a tour. For more information about our reviews, please see our FAQ.

Francesca is an outstanding tour guide. I used her for two museums and she has an amazing command of the subject matter. She tailored our tour to the subject areas I requested and is a delight to spend 3 hours with while leaning more about the museums.
Francesca was superb! Knowledgeable, friendly, courteous and prompt. A European art expert. She toured us on our daughter’s 18th birthday and brought her a gift. She made the gallery come alive and told us the cultural, historical and religious background of the paintings. We would have been overwhelmed trying to navigate the museum by ourselves. Francesca made it a fun and memorable experience.
Cindy gave us very good explanations with many examples.

See the National Gallery with Context

Get to know one of the art historians leading this tour

Meet Cindy