Each of the paintings included on the list are accompanied on the National Gallery website with complementary text descriptions and video content, helping the public build a deeper understanding of the works and the artists who created them.

The top 20 rankings feature painting heavyweights whose works span 450 years, with the oldest proving the most popular of all.

It is Jan van Eyck’s 1434 work The Arnolfini Portrait that has attracted more interest than any other during lockdown, with The Ambassadors (1533) by Hans Holbein the Younger and Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers (1888) occupying second and third places respectively.

Awards special recognition – Jan 2021- Mid article banner

Covid's most coveted canvas

Lockdown’s 20 most viewed painting pages on the National Gallery website are:

  1. The Arnolfini Portrait, 1434 – Jan van Eyck
  2. The Ambassadors, 1533 – Hans Holbein the Younger
  3. Sunflowers, 1888 – Vincent van Gogh
  4. The Fighting Temeraire, 1839 – Joseph Mallord William Turner
  5. The Virgin of the Rocks, about 1491/2-9 and 1506-8 – Leonardo da Vinci
  6. Rain, Steam, and Speed, 1844 – Joseph Mallord William Turner
  7. The Rokeby Venus, 1647-51- Diego Velázquez
  8. Surprised!, 1891 – Henri Rosseau
  9. Bacchus and Ariadne, 1520-3 – Titian
  10. The Hay Wain, 1821 – John Constable
  11. Venus and Mars, about 1485 – Sandro Botticelli
  12. The Water-Lily Pond, 1899 – Claude Monet
  13. Bathers at Asnières, 1884 – Georges Seurat
  14. The Supper at Emmaus, 1601 – Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio
  15. Marriage A-la-Mode: 1, The Marriage Settlement, about 1743 – William Hogarth
  16. A Young Woman standing at a Virginal, about 1670-72 – Johannes Vermeer
  17. An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump, 1768 – Joseph Wright ‘of Derby’
  18. Niccolò Mauruzi da Tolentino at the Battle of San Romano, probably about 1438-40 – Paolo Uccello
  19. A Wheatfield, with Cypresses, 1889 – Vincent van Gogh
  20. The Sultan Mehmet II, 1480 – Gentile Bellini

“It is revealing that Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait and Holbein’s Ambassadors are the pictures most people have looked for online,” states Dr Gabriele Finaldi, director of the National Gallery.

“Both are indoor scenes with very dressed up people and I am wondering whether they reflect our own experience of being enclosed in our homes during lockdown but yearning to go out and celebrate! Even with the Gallery doors closed all our masterpieces are available online for everyone to enjoy.”


Over 2,600 artworks in the National Gallery collection can be accessed online here.

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