Download 35,000 Works of Art from the National Gallery, Including Masterpieces by Van Gogh, Gauguin, Rembrandt & More

in Art | April 12th, 2014


As a young amateur painter and future art school dropout, I frequently found myself haunted by the faces of two artists, that famously odd couple from my favorite art history novelization—and Kirk Douglas role and Iggy Pop song—Lust for Life. Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin, above and below respectively, the tormented Dutch fanatic and burly French bully—how, I still wonder, could such a pair have ever co-existed, however briefly? How could such beautifully skewed visions of life have existed at all?

Van Gogh and Gaugin’s several self-portraits still inspire wonder. My younger self had the luxury of seeing these particular two up close and in person at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC: Van Gogh’s gaunt and piercing visage, Gauguin’s sneering self-parody.

Now, thanks to the wonders of digital technology, my older self, and yours, can view and download high-resolution photos of both paintings, and over 35,000 more from the museum’s vast holdings, through NGA Images, “a repository of digital images of the collections of the National Gallery of Art.”


There you’ll find works by another obsessive Dutch self-portraitist, Rembrandt van Rijn, such as the lush 1659 painting below. You’ll find paintings from the heroes of the various Renaissances and French Impressionism, from movements modern and colonial, pastoral and urban. The collection is dizzying, and a lover of art could easily lose hours sorting through it, saving “open access digital images up to 3000 pixels each […] available free of charge for download and use.” The purpose of NGA Images is “to facilitate learning, enrichment, enjoyment, and exploration,” and there’s no doubt that it satisfies all of those goals and then some. You can peruse the Gallery’s most requested images here.


Browse the various collections, including one devoted to self-portraits. Conduct advanced searches, if you’ve more knowledge of the Gallery’s many treasures. Use the “lightbox arranger” to sort, store, annotate, and save your own personalized collections for future viewing. You are the curator! And the lucky beneficiary of the National Gallery’s beneficence. While I can tell you from experience that it’s nothing like standing face to face with these paintings in their in-real-life dimensions, textures, lines, and colors—despite the throngs of disinterested tourists—it’s at least a close second. And for students and educators of the visual arts, NGA Images offers an opportunity like no other to view and share great works of art often hidden away from even the museum’s visitors. Enjoy!

Related Content:

Where to Find Free Art Images & Books from Great Museums, and Free Books from University Presses

The Getty Puts 4600 Art Images Into the Public Domain (and There’s More to Come)

Google Puts Over 57,000 Works of Art on the Web

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

by | Make a Comment (13)

Comments (13)

  1. Rafael says . . .
    June 13, 2014 / 7:38 pm

    Hello! Can I use this images for videos on youtube? this images are in Creative commons?

  2. Trevor Ho says . . .
    December 7, 2014 / 7:57 am

    Thanks for creating such a superb space to share everything nice about world culture. You deserve a round of great applause. Thank you.

  3. Jaime Hernando says . . .
    March 27, 2015 / 3:36 pm

    Thank you for allowing us to access such wonderful works…

  4. sum says . . .
    July 6, 2015 / 5:59 am

    Thank you for allowing us to access such wonderful works

  5. jeff zigner says . . .
    October 6, 2015 / 7:28 pm

    thank you and God Bless you.

  6. Le Roux says . . .
    October 26, 2015 / 8:11 am

    Merci de bien vouloir me permettre d’accéder à ces œuvres .

  7. Domingo Soria says . . .
    March 12, 2016 / 10:24 pm

    Thank you so much for this opportunity.

  8. Fred Welborn says . . .
    April 27, 2016 / 2:31 pm

    I would like to use the 35,000 art slides..where and how do I sign up, pay a fee,, etc. How do I then download and use these online pics. Please advise asap..thank you, Fred Welborn, retired art teacher from IL

  9. Faith Bloome-Krupnik says . . .
    June 17, 2016 / 3:50 am

    How can we enroll in your program? It sounds wonderful!

  10. Bobbee Pennington says . . .
    August 28, 2016 / 2:33 pm

    I am a librarian serving a poor community. Thank you for this resource.

  11. W. franklin says . . .
    September 8, 2016 / 11:46 am

    thank you so much..i love your paintings

  12. Brinda Takley says . . .
    January 27, 2017 / 12:17 am

    Thanks for access to this wonderful world heritage.

  13. Pavel Dtraka says . . .
    February 16, 2017 / 6:58 am

    Excellent idea

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