December 2009
December at the National Gallery
This month, take a break from the rush and experience new surroundings: ‘The Sacred Made Real’ offers drama and contemplation, while Kienholz’s ‘Hoerengracht’ evokes Amsterdam’s red-light district. If you’re in a festive mood, listen to talks on ‘feasts’, take in a Nativity scene, or find Christmas gifts in the Gallery shops.
The Sacred Made Real: Spanish Painting and Sculpture 1600–1700
Until 24 January 2010

‘The most powerful show the National Gallery is ever likely to hold’ – Laura Cumming, The Observer

See masterpieces by Velázquez and Zurbarán juxtaposed with shockingly realistic painted wooden sculptures. Whether you’re marvelling at the ingenuity and skill of the artists, or spending time in quiet reflection, this dramatically lit exhibition is a unique experience.
Detail from Francisco de Zurbarán, ‘The Virgin of Mercy of Las Cuevas’, about 1644–55. Museo de Bellas Artes, Seville © Photo Imagen M.A.S.
Find out more and book tickets
Buy catalogue
December Highlights
The Making of a Spanish Polychrome Sculpture
Admission free

Discover the technical processes involved in creating painted wooden sculptures, as seen in ‘The Sacred Made Real’.

Francisco Antonio Gijón’s lifelike depiction of ‘Saint John of the Cross’ is displayed alongside a modern-day bust-length copy that reveals the sculpture’s different stages of production.

Detail from Darío Fernández, ‘Contemporary copy of the head and cowl of Saint John of the Cross by Francisco Antonio Gijón’, 2009. Generously supported by The Matthiesen Foundation, London, and Coll & Cortes, Madrid. Photo © Darío Fernández
Visit ‘The Making of a Spanish Polychrome Sculpture’
Kienholz: The Hoerengracht
Admission free

‘The Hoerengracht’ (1983–8), by American artists Ed and Nancy Kienholz, transforms the Sunley Room into a walk-through evocation of Amsterdam’s red-light district.

This provocative installation explores a theme that has been investigated by artists over many centuries and echoes visual traditions well established within European art.

Detail from Ed and Nancy Reddin Kienholz, ‘The Hoerengracht’, 1983–8 © Kienholz. Courtesy of L.A. Louver, Venice, CA
Explore ‘Kienholz: The Hoerengracht’
Buy catalogue
From the shops
Christmas shopping at the National Gallery

At the Gallery shops you’ll find beautiful 2010 diaries and calendars alongside inspiring gifts for all the family including new jigsaws, books, jewellery and accessories.

Plus, don’t miss your last chance to buy our exclusive Christmas cards.

Browse gifts
At the Courtauld Gallery
Frank Auerbach: London Building Sites 1952–62
Until 17 January 2010

Don’t miss the first exhibition to explore the extraordinary group of post-war building site paintings by Frank Auerbach, one of Britain’s greatest living artists.

Win the exhibition catalogue and a pair of tickets
Simply email competition
before 15 December to enter this prize draw.

You can also see some Auerbach works in the National Gallery’s espresso bar, all inspired by the collection.

Frank Auerbach, ‘Rebuilding the Empire Cinema, Leicester Square’, 1962. Private collection © The Artist
More about the exhibition
Enter competition
From Delfont Mackintosh Theatres
Win ‘Les Misérables’ tickets

To celebrate the National Gallery’s spring exhibition, ‘Painting History: Delaroche and Lady Jane Grey’, you could win a pair of tickets, free interval drinks and two programmes for ‘Les Misérables’.

Plus, join Priority, Delfont Mackintosh Theatres’ fast-growing theatre club, to receive advance booking and access to exclusive behind-the-scenes events, including a forthcoming backstage tour of ‘Les Misérables’.

More about Priority
Win tickets to ‘Les Misérables’
Gallery website
Shop online

December Focus
Gorge on a festive spread of free talks
What’s On Highlights

Holiday fun for families

Courses, lectures and workshops

Discussions: Sculpture in Painting

All events

Plan your visit
The National Gallery
Trafalgar Square, London
Open daily 10am – 6pm
Fridays 10am – 9pm