In these galleries, magnificent architectural settings and period rooms provide the backdrop for masterpieces of European art from the early 16th to the mid-19th century.
Highlights from the Collections
|Explore objects on view in the European Art 1500-1850 galleries >>|
Magnificent architectural settings and period rooms provide the backdrop for masterpieces of European art
Predella: Stories from Italian Altarpieces
Gallery 273, second floor
The word “predella” (an old Italian for “step”) refers to the long, bottom tier of an altarpiece. Predellas are usually made from single, long pieces of wood and often are decorated with scenes of biblical stories or legends of saints that correspond to holy figures represented in the main part of the altarpiece. The predella panels in this gallery were once part of fourteenth- through sixteen-century Italian altarpieces that were cut into smaller sections, sometimes individual scenes, during the Napoleonic invasions of Italy in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
Chinese Armorial Porcelain for the European Market
Gallery 290a, second floor
In the 18th-century, virtually every European aristocratic family owned an Asian porcelain tea service decorated with its coat of arms. Due to the great number of British families who possessed these heraldic objects, Chinese and Japanese factories manufactured more porcelain for export to England than to any other European country. See an example here, and visit gallery 290a for several more.
Gallery 270, second floor
This silver salver, or "table," belonged to David Franks and his wife Margaret Evans. At 25-inches in diameter, it certainly would have been one of the most spectacular pieces of silver in any colonial American household. Discover more about this magnificent piece, and the fascinating story of its Philadelphia owners, in the slideshow at left.
Great Stair Hall Balcony, second floor
The monumental 13-panel tapestry set representing the "History of Constantine the Great" is a tour de force of the Baroque style and one of the Museum's most important masterpieces. It consists of seven weavings presented to Cardinal Francesco Barberini by Louis XIII in 1625, along with six panels woven in the Barberini tapestry manufactory in Rome between 1630 and 1642.
Please note, many of the objects on view in these galleries rotate periodically.
On the second floor of the Main Building, you'll find a stunning rotunda gallery. Conceived as a space for the display of sculpture, this gallery was inaugurated in 1928 with an exhibition of Jean-Antoine Houdon's portraits of American patriots. Today, it still houses a number of exquisite portrait busts that you may explore in this slideshow.