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The National Museum's fine art collection gives a comprehensive overview of stylistic developments across Europe from 1500.
It is particularly strong in its late-19th- and 20th-century galleries, due in large part to the bequest of 260 works by the sisters Gwendoline and Margaret Davies in the middle of the last century. Old Masters include works by Cima da Conegliano, Jan van der Capelle and Frans Snyders, with classical landscapes by Poussin and Salvator Rosa. Among the later pictures there is a significant French emphasis, with the world's largest collection of works by satirical artist Honoré Daumier, and canvases by Boudin, Corot, Manet, Pissarro and Renoir, as well as three Monet waterlilies. Post-Impressionist works include three Cézannes, Van Gogh's Rain at Auvers, and a bronze cast of Rodin's The Kiss.
As you'd expect, there are galleries devoted to the development of Welsh art, with outstanding landscapes by Thomas Jones and Richard Wilson and numerous other works by Augustus and Gwen John. Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn and Dylan Thomas are among the faces on display in the gallery of notable Welsh figures.
The geological and archaeological collections follow the geographical evolution of Wales up to the end of the last ice age, before going in search of the origins of early Welsh man. A multimedia installation recreates the experience of South Wales 200 million years ago, while fossils and plant and animal life add further detail to the picture. Of particular interest from the later archaeological galleries is the beautiful collection of Bronze Age gold jewellery and artefacts.
Art Funded works
Nineteen of Nicolas Poussin's paintings take Moses as their subject. The Finding of Moses from 1651 is distinguished not only by the animated detail of the foreground scene, but also by the accuracy of the archaeological background.
A late still life, Picasso's Nature Morte aux Poron reworks the classic genre as an exercise in Cubist angularity. While the palette reflects the artist's post-war shift away from darker colours in favour of brighter, lighter shades, the objects themselves are long-established symbols in the artist's artistic vocabulary.
For a quick pause with coffee and cake, the Café at the National Museum, situated in the main hall, offers a perfect spot from which to watch the world go by and enjoy the pillared grandeur of the atrium itself. For a more substantial lunch, the Oriel Restaurant downstairs offers a bright, modern alternative. Serving hot and cold food, the restaurant prides itself on its locally sourced produce.