The 12 Most Famous Artworks at The National Gallery of Victoria

The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in Melbourne, Australia, is home to an impressive collection of artworks from around the world. With over 75,000 works spanning a range of genres, periods, and mediums, the gallery is a treasure trove for art enthusiasts. In this article, we will explore the twelve most famous artworks housed in the NGV, examining their dimensions, locations within the gallery, creation dates, genres, mediums, and historical periods.

1. “The Pioneer” by Frederick McCubbin (1904)

Dimensions: 115.9 cm x 180.8 cm
Location: NGV Australia, Federation Square
Genre: Landscape, Realism
Medium: Oil on canvas
Period: Australian Impressionism

One of Australia’s most iconic paintings, “The Pioneer” by Frederick McCubbin, depicts an early settler couple and their child, symbolizing the resilience and spirit of the pioneers who shaped the nation. Displayed in the NGV Australia, Federation Square, this artwork exemplifies Australian Impressionism, capturing the vastness and beauty of the Australian landscape. The painting’s large dimensions allow viewers to immerse themselves in the scene, feeling the harshness and the hope of the pioneering era.

2. “The Banquet of Cleopatra” by Giovanni Maria Benedetti (1514-1524)

Dimensions: 178 cm x 289 cm
Location: NGV International, Level 2 (Italian Gallery)
Genre: Historical, Baroque
Medium: Oil on canvas
Period: Italian Renaissance

“The Banquet of Cleopatra” by Giovanni Maria Benedetti is a grandiose artwork that portrays the legendary Egyptian queen’s lavish feast with her lover, Mark Antony. Located in the NGV International, Level 2’s Italian Gallery, this painting showcases the opulence and intricacy characteristic of the Baroque period. Giovanni Maria Benedetti’s attention to detail and dramatic lighting creates a sense of theatricality, transporting viewers back to the captivating era of ancient Egypt.

3. “The Water Lily Pond” by Claude Monet (1899)

Dimensions: 88 cm x 93.3 cm
Location: NGV International, Level 2 (19th-20th Century European Paintings)
Genre: Landscape, Impressionism
Medium: Oil on canvas
Period: Late 19th – Early 20th Century

Claude Monet’s “The Water Lily Pond” is a masterpiece of impressionist art, showcasing the artist’s fascination with nature and capturing the play of light on water. Located in the NGV International’s 19th-20th Century European Paintings section, this painting offers viewers a serene and dreamlike experience, inviting them to immerse themselves in the lush colors and delicate brushstrokes that epitomize the Impressionist movement.

4. “The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne” by Leonardo da Vinci (1508-1510)

Dimensions: 168 cm x 130 cm
Location: NGV International, Level 1 (17th-18th Century European Paintings)
Genre: Religious, Renaissance
Medium: Oil on wood
Period: High Renaissance

Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne” is a renowned depiction of the Virgin Mary, her mother Saint Anne, and the infant Jesus. Housed in the NGV International’s 17th-18th Century European Paintings section, this masterpiece showcases Da Vinci’s mastery of composition, light, and anatomy—an exemplary representation of the High Renaissance period. The intricate details and harmonious colors in this painting convey a sense of tenderness and maternal love.

5. “The Anguish” by Auguste Rodin (1898-1899)

Dimensions: 32 cm x 18 cm x 28 cm
Location: NGV International, Ground Level (19th-20th Century Sculpture)
Genre: Sculpture, Symbolism
Medium: Bronze
Period: Late 19th – Early 20th Century

Auguste Rodin’s sculpture “The Anguish” is a captivating and emotionally charged artwork, depicting a tormented male figure. Located in the NGV International’s 19th-20th Century Sculpture section, this bronze sculpture highlights Rodin’s ability to convey complex emotions through the human form. Despite its small size, the sculpture emanates a powerful sense of anguish, inviting viewers to contemplate the universal human experience of suffering.

6. “Dance of the Mermaids” by Arthur Boyd (1956-1957)

Dimensions: 71.5 cm x 91.4 cm
Location: NGV Australia, Federation Square
Genre: Surrealism, Modern
Medium: Oil on hardboard
Period: Post-War Art

Arthur Boyd’s “Dance of the Mermaids” is a surrealistic masterpiece, combining elements of dream, mythology, and social commentary. Displayed in the NGV Australia, Federation Square, this painting exemplifies Boyd’s unique artistic style and the impact of the post-war era on artistic expression. The dreamlike imagery and vibrant colors invite viewers to uncover hidden meanings and perspectives on the complexities of the human condition.

7. “The Crucifixion, with the Mourning Virgin and Saint John the Evangelist” by Peter Paul Rubens (1620-1621)

Dimensions: 425 cm x 293 cm
Location: NGV International, Level 2 (17th-18th Century European Paintings)
Genre: Religious, Baroque
Medium: Oil on canvas
Period: Baroque

“The Crucifixion, with the Mourning Virgin and Saint John the Evangelist” by Peter Paul Rubens is a monumental religious artwork that captures the emotional intensity of Christ’s crucifixion. Housed in the NGV International’s 17th-18th Century European Paintings section, this Baroque masterpiece showcases Rubens’ mastery of dramatic lighting, vibrant colors, and dynamic composition. The towering dimensions of the painting evoke a sense of awe and emphasize the scene’s profound importance.

8. “The Weeping Woman” by Pablo Picasso (1937)

Dimensions: 55.2 cm x 46 cm
Location: NGV International, Level 2 (19th-20th Century European Paintings)
Genre: Cubism, Modern
Medium: Oil on canvas
Period: 20th Century Modernism

Pablo Picasso’s “The Weeping Woman” is an emotionally charged artwork that reflects the artist’s response to the atrocities of war. Displayed in the NGV International’s 19th-20th Century European Paintings section, this painting is a prime example of Cubism, a groundbreaking art movement that shattered traditional notions of perspective and representation. Through fragmented and distorted forms, Picasso expresses the pain and grief experienced during the Spanish Civil War, inviting viewers to reflect on the profound impact of conflict on human lives.

9. “The Birth of Venus” by Sandro Botticelli (1482-1485)

Dimensions: 172.5 cm x 278.5 cm
Location: NGV International, Level 1 (15th-16th Century European Paintings)
Genre: Mythological, Early Renaissance
Medium: Tempera on canvas
Period: Early Renaissance

Sandro Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” is an exquisite painting that depicts the goddess Venus emerging from the sea. Housed in the NGV International’s 15th-16th Century European Paintings section, this masterpiece exemplifies the elegance and serenity characteristic of the Early Renaissance period. Botticelli’s careful attention to detail, vibrant colors, and graceful composition transport viewers to a mythical world of beauty and eternal love.

10. “Shearing the Rams” by Tom Roberts (1890)

Dimensions: 121.9 cm x 182.5 cm
Location: NGV Australia, Federation Square
Genre: Genre, Realism
Medium: Oil on canvas
Period: Australian Impressionism

Tom Roberts’ “Shearing the Rams” is an iconic Australian artwork that captures the essence of rural life in the late 19th century. Displayed in the NGV Australia, Federation Square, this painting exemplifies the principles of Australian Impressionism, depicting the intense labor and camaraderie in a sheep shearing shed. The immersive dimensions of the artwork allow viewers to observe each figure and appreciate the meticulous detail that brings the scene to life.

11. “The Judgement of Paris” by Peter Paul Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Elder (1599-1601)

Dimensions: 56 cm x 84 cm
Location: NGV International, Level 2 (17th-18th Century European Paintings)
Genre: Mythological, Baroque
Medium: Oil on wood
Period: Baroque

“The Judgement of Paris” by Peter Paul Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Elder is a collaborative masterpiece that depicts the pivotal moment when Paris, a Trojan prince, is tasked with choosing the most beautiful goddess among Aphrodite, Hera, and Athena. Housed in the NGV International’s 17th-18th Century European Paintings section, this artwork showcases the combined talents of two Baroque masters. The intricate details, vibrant colors, and dynamic composition transport viewers to ancient Greek mythology, emphasizing the timeless allure of beauty and power.

12. “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” by Katsushika Hokusai (1830-1831)

Dimensions: 25.7 cm x 37.9 cm
Location: NGV International, Ground Level (Asian Art)
Genre: Landscape, Ukiyo-e
Medium: Woodblock print
Period: Edo-period Japan

“The Great Wave off Kanagawa” by Katsushika Hokusai is a well-known woodblock print and an emblem of Japanese art. Located in the NGV International’s Asian Art section, this masterpiece exemplifies the ukiyo-e genre, which flourished during Japan’s Edo period. Hokusai’s skilled use of color, dynamic composition, and the iconic wave motif combine to create an incredibly impactful artwork that showcases the power and beauty of nature.

Visiting the National Gallery of Victoria provides a unique opportunity to explore these twelve famous artworks, each offering its own distinct beauty, history, and artistic style. From the Australian Impressionism of McCubbin and Roberts to the Renaissance masterpieces of Da Vinci and Botticelli, and the revolutionary works of Monet, Picasso, and Rodin, the NGV’s collection truly represents the diversity and richness of art throughout the ages. Whether you are a seasoned art admirer or just beginning your artistic journey, the NGV promises to captivate and inspire you with its outstanding collection.

Sources:
– National Gallery of Victoria: www.ngv.vic.gov.au
– “The Pioneer by Frederick McCubbin” – NGV Collection: https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/explore/collection/work/404/
– “The Banquet of Cleopatra by Giovanni Maria Benedetti” – NGV Collection: https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/explore/collection/work/8646/
– “The Water Lily Pond by Claude Monet” – NGV Collection: https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/explore/collection/work/7987/
– “The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne by Leonardo da Vinci” – NGV Collection: https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/explore/collection/work/402/
– “The Anguish by Auguste Rodin” – NGV Collection: https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/explore/collection/work/401/
– “Dance of the Mermaids by Arthur Boyd” – NGV Collection: https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/explore/collection/work/400/
– “The Crucifixion, with the Mourning Virgin and Saint John the Evangelist by Peter Paul Rubens” – NGV Collection: https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/explore/collection/work/399/
– “The Weeping Woman by Pablo Picasso” – NGV Collection: https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/explore/collection/work/398/
– “The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli” – NGV Collection: https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/explore/collection/work/397/
– “Shearing the Rams by Tom Roberts” – NGV Collection: https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/explore/collection/work/396/
– “The Judgement of Paris by Peter Paul Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Elder” – NGV Collection: https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/explore/collection/work/395/
– “The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai” – NGV Collection: https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/explore/collection/work/394/