5 highlight paintings from The Courtauld Gallery

Discover the home of one of the greatest art collections in the United Kingdom

Art for all

The Courtauld cares for one of the greatest art collections in the UK, sharing these works with the public at The Courtauld Gallery in Somerset House, central London. 

Peach Trees in Blossom (1889) by Vincent van GoghThe Courtauld Institute of Art

A prestigious collection

The remarkable collection includes paintings, drawings, prints, sculpture and decorative arts, ranging from the medieval period to the present day. 

Read on to see some of the highlight artworks you can visit.  

Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear (1889) by Vincent van GoghThe Courtauld Institute of Art

1. Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear by Vincent van Gogh

Van Gogh painted it in January 1889, a week after leaving hospital. He had received treatment there after cutting off most of his left ear (shown here as the bandaged right ear because he painted himself in a mirror). 

This self-portrait demonstrates Van Gogh's determination to continue painting, reinforced by the objects behind him such as a Japanese print, an important source of inspiration. Above all, it is Van Gogh's brushwork and handling of colour that declares his ambition as a painter.

A Bar at the Folies-Bergère (1882) by Eduard ManetThe Courtauld Institute of Art

2. A Bar at the Folies-Bergère by Édouard Manet

This picture was Manet’s last major work, exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1882. Manet knew the Folies-Bergère well. He made preparatory sketches on site, but the final painting was executed in his studio. He set up a bar and employed one of the barmaids, Suzon, to pose with it. 

Manet’s picture is unsettling. The quickly sketched crowds convey the bustle of the Folies-Bergère. In contrast, the barmaid here is detached and still at the bar, with her reflection displaced to the right. She stares at the viewer, but the mirror shows her facing a customer. 

Adam and Eve (1525) by Lucas Cranach the ElderThe Courtauld Institute of Art

3. Adam and Eve by Lucas Cranach the Elder

Adam and Eve are depicted at the fateful moment they disobey God. Hoping to know good and evil, Eve bites into a fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, the only forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden. Soon after, Adam will take the fruit and the couple will be banished as punishment. 

Cranach and his workshop made over 50 versions of this subject. This painting is one of the largest and most beautiful. His seductive depiction of nude figures and nature heightens the theme of temptation, central to this biblical story.

The Card Players (1892/1895) by Paul CézanneThe Courtauld Institute of Art

4. The Card Players by Paul Cézanne

Paul Cézanne spent several years drawing and painting farmworkers from the rural estate where he lived near Aix-en-Provence, in the south of France. This is one of five paintings depicting some of these men playing cards. 

Cézanne's figures are elongated, somewhat out of proportion, and his brushwork is lively and varied. However, the overall feeling in the painting is one of stillness and concentration, with the men completely absorbed in their game. 

Young Woman Powdering Herself (1888/1890) by Georges SeuratThe Courtauld Institute of Art

5. Young Woman Powdering Herself by Georges Seurat

This work is the only major portrait painted by Georges Seurat, who died at the age of 31. It depicts his companion, Madeleine Knobloch, applying make-up. The theme of nature and artifice, represented by the use of cosmetics, is echoed in Seurat's technique, called ‘pointillism'.

He applied a ‘skin’ of coloured dots to the surface of his work to animate it and create volume. Following newly formulated optical theories, he placed colours from opposite sides of the colour wheel — orange and blue, red and green — next to each other for greater contrast.

Montagne Sainte-Victoire with Large Pine (1887) by Paul CézanneThe Courtauld Institute of Art

The Courtauld’s ambition is to transform access to art history education, by extending the horizons of what this is, and ensuring as many people as possible can benefit from the tools to better understand the visual world around us.

Discover more of the collection here.

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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