Where to see Baroque art in the UK

Rembrandt, Belshazzar's Feast, c. 1636, National Gallery, Art Funded 1964

Experience the drama and dazzling lights of Baroque art at these seven museums across the UK with an Art Pass.

What is Baroque art?

Dramatic scenes, intense light, dark shadows, and realistic human forms – these are the attributes that you can expect to see in Baroque art. Unlike its predecessor, Renaissance art, which commonly featured idealised scenes with mythological landscapes, Baroque artists zoomed up close to capture the sweat, blood and tears that you'd expect in real life.

Real human bodies and emotions were captured with grit and gumption, rejecting the perfect, untouched fantasy that had previously manifested in Renaissance scenes, which were often presented in symmetrical harmony. Baroque embraced the off-balance, the close-up, and the capturing of a moment in time, all adding to a feeling of drama.

Baroque art emerged at the start of the 17th century against the backdrop of the Protestant Reformation. The Catholic church wanted to reassert its power and used the arts to do so, commissioning large-scale, dramatic paintings and sculptures to evoke awe and wonder in the public. As the centre of the Catholic church, Rome became a hotspot for artists, who flocked there to promote their careers with wealthy patrons and collectors.

We've rounded up some of the best museums and galleries across the UK where you can experience the drama and stunning scenes of this 17th-century movement for yourself. And with a National Art Pass, you'll get great benefits at lots of these venues.

Where can I see Baroque art with an Art Pass?

Gallery 32 after refurbishment at the National Gallery

National Gallery

Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Rubens, Velázquez. Marvel at the dramatic scenes and vivid colours of some of the biggest names in Baroque painting at London's National Gallery. Don't miss their room dedicated entirely to 17th-century Italian Baroque painting, which features a selection of 25 works that Art Fund helped the National Gallery to acquire from leading art historian Denis Mahon's collection in 2013. This includes a masterpiece by Guercino, The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (1623).

Dulwich Picture Gallery interior

Dulwich Picture Gallery

Boasting a rich collection of French, Italian and Spanish Baroque paintings by the likes of Le Brun, Poussin, and Murillo, as well as major works by Dutch and Flemish artists Rembrandt and Rubens, Dulwich Picture Gallery is a great place to visit if you're looking to immerse yourself in the dynamic compositions and intense lighting of the Baroque movement.

The Fitzwilliam Museum, interior

The Fitzwilliam Museum

Not only does the Fitzwilliam Museum hold stunning Baroque paintings, including a masterpiece by Poussin that we helped them acquire in 2012, but they also have a significant collection of Baroque objects, from fans and tankards to furniture and bronze sculptures. Like the movement's paintings, Baroque sculptures channelled dynamism and drama, using realistic representations of the body and deep grooves to play with the light and create shadows.

Ashmolean Museum, exterior

Ashmolean Museum

With a dedicated Baroque Art Gallery, Oxford's Ashmolean Museum holds works including Claude Lorrain's Landscape with Ascanius Shooting the Stag of Sylvia (1681-82). Lorrain, like many artists of the time, moved to Rome to capture the attention of the Catholic church and wealthy patrons living there. Also on display is a marble bust by Christopher Wren, the designer of St Paul's Cathedral, and an ivory carving of Venus and Cupid by Georg Petel.

Room 3, Walker Art Gallery

Walker Art Gallery

Be dazzled by the Baroque paintings, sculptures, ceramics and silverware from both southern and northern Europe in Room 3 of the Walker Art Gallery. Learn about the influence of the Catholic church on arts patronage during the 17th century through works such as a large church altarpiece by Murillo or a pair of limewood sculptures of Jesuit saints.

Historic Art gallery, National Museum Cardiff

National Museum Cardiff

Gallery 3 at National Museum Cardiff traces art in the Netherlands between 1500 and 1700, with works by leading Flemish Baroque artists including Frans Snyders and Rubens. Rubens had a huge influence on the Flemish interpretation of the Baroque style, and Antwerp, akin to Rome in Italy, became a flourishing centre of the arts for the region.

Interior view of the National Galleries of Scotland: National

National Galleries Scotland: National

The Baroque collection at the National in Edinburgh spotlights the movement's development in southern Europe, where varying styles emerged that encompassed more naturalistic and restrained compositions. This can be seen in the work of Velázquez, whose work An Old Woman Cooking Eggs (1618) we helped the museum acquire in 1955. They also hold a significant collection of paintings by Poussin, a French Baroque artist who transformed landscape painting into a genre in its own right.

IndividualTiana Clarke Please note this is an example card and not a reflection of the final product

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