“How to Read a Painting” our private evening tour at Nat Gallery Ireland, Thurs Eve, 14th April

Looking at Art | the Art of Looking.

We’re leading a rare public edition of our legendary How to Read a Painting tour at the National Gallery of Ireland, on Thursday Evening, 14th April. The tour is a private tour, taking place with ethkind permission of the national gallery.  It covers and explains ideas that will help guests read old master paintings better in future, and better interpret symbols, iconography, and to recognise saints and stories in Art.  The tour runs from 6PM to 8PM approx, on Thursday night 14th April.   There are 9 tickets left at the time of writing.  If you’d like to join us you can book a ticket here.

Tour starts after work on a Thursday evening.    Meeting time from 5.50pm, Thursday 14th.  Tour commences 6pm, lasts approx 2.2 hours.  (The gallery does not close until 8.3o on a Thursday, so our tour may well run slightly over 8PM).  Places strictly limited to 15 people max, due to gallery restrictions,  Fee €23 p/p plus EventBrite booking fee +€2 euro.  Tickets available here You’ll never look at Art the same way again.

Practicalities:  Once you have your ticket booked, please meet you guide Arran inside the foyer of the Clare St section, from 5.50PM.  Meet near the door of the National Gallery bookshop, just inside the Clare St entrance.   There is no need to print your ticket.  You can either show it on your phone if you like.  We’ll have a list of guest in any case.




The tour aims to  help non-specialists build confidence looking at old Master Paintings. It is a guided- discussion, an approach over the last 5 years or so.

We explore “iconography” -meaning symbols, especially religious symbols in Art

We’ll also learn some tricks and hints how to recognise various saints & symbols.  We’ll glance at supposedly tricky notions like the “picture plane”  and the vital importance of conventions in depiction, and how all these ideas helps us to “read” pictures.

We’ll discuss the key role and changing nature of artistic patronage too, and many other ideas & concept amid our conversation.

In short,  how are the many different elements of a painting, from symbols to light to landscape to gesture to composition used by artists, to construct meaning?

No prior knowledge is required!  The idea is to build confidence through a stronger framework of understanding;  learn a few useful concepts, and maybe develop a few good habits, when we engage with art.  The tours is very good fun and  sociable!   This tour has been the subject of something like 100 5-start reviews on TripAdvisor, which you can see under our Dublin Decoded banner there  It’s also just a very nice way to spend a couple of hours chatting about art, surrounded by gorgeous, old master paintings.




directly above: a detail from Gabrille Metsu,  at the National Gallery of Ireland.

National Gallery of Ireland, Art with Dublin DEcoded

If you can’t make this small public event on Thursday 14th April,  you can book it as a private tour for your own group as a present for somebody, or as a company event.  The tour is available for private, pre-booked custom groups, generally also on Thursday evenings 6-8pm, on flexible dates, by prior arrangement.  For enquiry about this or any other private tours, please send an email to dublindecoded@gmail.com    It’s very helpful if you specify the tour title and your preferred date (or dates) in the subject header please?  Subject header tour title & date helps facilitate a speedy response.

Price for private tours fee €150 for custom family/friends/private groups up to 1-6,  (regardless of number 1-6 guests)  then please add €10 p/p above 6 guests.   Corporate rates x 2.5 normal family and friend rate.  Corporate rate €375 per tour, for 1 up to 6 persons included, then €35 p/p over 6 people.  Please note: group size is 15 guests max. on this tour.

National Gallery of Ireland, Art with Dublin DEcoded 3

If you wish to keep an eye out for future public events by Dublin Decoded or led by Arran Henderson, the best way by far is the monthly email newsletter.  The quick sign up form is here.

Thank you for reading.

Uncover the meaning of paintings


4 thoughts on ““How to Read a Painting” our private evening tour at Nat Gallery Ireland, Thurs Eve, 14th April

    1. Thanks Karen. Delighted you enjoyed the 1916 tour! It was great wasn’t it. Please tell everyone on TripAdvisor! (Really helps this time of year) And yes, send us those William Orpen details as well! Best of luck with it all
      – Arran.


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