Join me for a National Gallery art tour

Do you like mysteries and secrets?

What do you see when you go to an art gallery? Walls full of paintings that hold little interest because they mean nothing to you? Imagine the thrill of being in on the secrets that paintings hold. There is something very wonderful about uncovering what an artist is trying to tell you, and why, or knowing what a painting has ‘seen’ in a previous life. Believe me, the stories within the paintings are very often matched by the stories of the works themselves! Join me for a gallery art tour that will leave you full of insights and inspired to know more.

Please note that the National Gallery is currently closed, however, as soon as it re-opens I would be delighted to take you on an art tour through its hallowed halls.

If the National Gallery isn’t accessible to you, or you would prefer to revel in art from the comfort of your own home, why not book one of my virtual art tours? To find out more go to the virtual art tours page.

Here are the tours of the National Gallery that I offer.


The National Gallery is currently closed so I am unable to accept bookings for gallery tours. When it re-opens I will be able to offer tours for individuals or couples but it might take longer for me to be able to accommodate larger groups due to continued restrictions. If you are unsure whether you can book or not, or how many guests you can book for, just send an email to and I’ll be happy to answer any questions.

Conversation Pieces

From astonishment to anger and rage to ridicule, the artists and paintings in this tour have ignited what must have been the liveliest of discussions. What was so radical about Masaccio? Who was showing off more, Titian or his patron? Why did Turner need to complete his most famous masterpiece so quickly, and if Cezanne had tried a bit harder would his work have caused quite such a row? Charting the course of Western art history with their own unique stories, the conversations surrounding these works have lost none of their allure – especially when mixed with some Beyond the Palette sparkle!

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Women! Brilliant, beautiful and occasionally bonkers

From the vanity of Greek Goddesses to the intelligence and determination of women operating in a man’s world, this tour celebrates the glory, and occasional caprice, of women in art throughout the centuries. We will revel in paintings by the great artistic masters including Velázquez, Rubens, Titian and the fabulous but perhaps less well-known Elizabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, luxuriating in delicious details and saucy scandal as we relish each carefully chosen work.

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Detail from Vigée Le Brun self-portrait, Gallery Art Tour

A romp through the early works from the 14th to the 16th century

Enter a world of saints and the occasional sinner. Most art pre-1500 was for the church but, my, was it lavish, fascinating and often gorgeous. Learn to recognise individual saints, understand why Jesus was seldom depicted as cute and rejoice in an abundance of gold. And the sinner? Shall we just say that not all art was religious?

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Detail from Patient Griselda, Gallery Art Tour

A romp through the later works from the 17th century to the 20th century

Starting with the genius of Rubens, we will romp through the art of the baroque à la Caravaggio, stopping to admire perhaps the loveliest bottom in the gallery, before dissecting an early selfie and unravelling JMW Turner’s unusual take on an historic event. Like all good stories, this one has a twist at the end that will force us to question everything we’ve learnt about art.

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Detail from Rubens’ Judgement of Paris, Gallery Art Tour

Greek Mythology

There’s nothing like a good party, and Bacchus has to be the ultimate host, whereas Medusa always reduces even the most raucous gathering to stony silence. Many works in the gallery derive from Greek Mythology, and for centuries the lively narration of stories such as these was the ultimate art form. Expect plenty of drama, passion and the occasional satyr.

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Perspective in Focus

Why didn’t western artists really use perspective before the Renaissance era? Why did it become central to the way paintings were produced during and after the Renaissance, and what is perspective anyway? These questions and more are explored through some of the gallery’s most iconic works with wit, humour and a dollop of algebra so tiny as to be almost imperceptible.

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Fabulous Flesh

From voluptuous goddesses to a cheeky flash of muscular male gluteus maximus, flesh is on display everywhere in the gallery. We will explore the erotic, the confusing and often downright weird offerings that artists have come up with over the centuries, sometimes all within the same picture!

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If paintings could throw glitter you’ll be sparkling from head to toe! The flamboyance of St Sebastian finds its match in the outrageous demands of Zeus whilst, ever the saucy provocateur, Caravaggio’s prodigious talent shocks and seduces in equal measure. Sexy, fun and brimming with irreverence, feather boas are optional.

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Detail from Reni’s The Toilet of Venus, Gallery Art Tour

Fun, informative, entertaining. What more could you ask?

Ian RitchieGallery Art Tour

Best experience ever!!

DilaGallery Art Tour

What can I expect from a Beyond the Palette tour at the National Gallery?

We’ll meet in the gallery and after a brief introduction to National Gallery and its collection, we’ll hone in on a carefully curated number of works, spending time with each to really get to grips with the fascinating and often bizarre aspects of its creation as well as the story the image is supposed to tell! Questions and comments are always welcome; this is an interactive experience, and most definitely not a lecture. Most tours last around 90 minutes and we generally look at six works.

How many people are there on each tour?

For any scheduled tour, the maximum number of guests is 10 to enable everyone to see the painting we are discussing up close and offer the opportunity to ask questions and enjoy a fully interactive experience. If you wish to book a private tour for a larger number of guests, that’s absolutely fine. People who know each other are seldom as shy when it comes to interaction so we can still ensure no one misses out!

How do I book a gallery art tour?

When the National Gallery is open and it is possible to welcome larger groups once again, I will schedule themed tours that will be advertised on this page and available to book via a link.

Can I book a private gallery art tour?

As soon as the National Gallery re-opens, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’! I’d love to take you on a private tour of the gallery. Until restrictions ease, I will only be able to take bookings for couples and individuals, and the cost will be £200 for around 90 minutes.

When groups are able to meet again safely, the cost of a private tour starts at £200 for up to 4 people. If you are thinking about getting together a larger group, the price per head reduces. To book, you will either be able to email me at or click on your preferred tour option below and follow the instructions.

I have a terrible memory, do you send post tour notes?

I do send post tour notes! After your gallery experience, I’ll send you a crib sheet detailing the paintings we’ve seen and some little reminders of some of the things I’ve mentioned during the tour.

I would love to buy a gallery art tour gift voucher, is that possible?

Yes! A Beyond the Palette gift voucher is the perfect solution for an unusual and thoughtful gift. Click here and select the ‘Private Gallery Tour’ option to take the first step to a personalised voucher to send to the lucky recipient or recipients. Please note that gallery art tour vouchers are not currently available, but why not offer someone the gift of a private art Zoom instead? Simply go to the gift voucher page and select ‘Private Zoom Tour’.