Most notable 17th century pieces are An Allegory of Fortune by Lorenzo Lippi and St Cecilia crowned by an Angel by Giovanni Romanelli. A fine companion pair of genre scenes.
A Boy with a basket of Vegetables
A Boy with a Dog by Giacomo Ceruti of c.1740s were the first pieces to enter this collection, in 1893, and they are the finest works by Ceruti in any public gallery in Britain.
A notable recent acquisition was a portrait of James Stewart by Pompeo Batoni bought in 1997. James Stewart was an Ulsterman from Killymoon near Cookstown , Co. Tyrone, who made the Grand Tour to Italy between 1766-68 and sat to Batoni in Rome in 1767.
Other notable works from the 17th and 18th centuries are St Francis of Assisi at Prayer by Christophano Allori, Pan and Diana by Filippo Lauri, Pastoral Landscape with figures by Donato Creti, An Allegory of Piety Rejecting War and Literature by Francesco Solimena and two capricci (imaginary scenes) of classical ruins, one attributed to Michele Marieschi the other from the studio of Giovanni Paolo Panini.
There are fourteen Dutch works, of which the most important are two acquired since 1998: A View of the Palace of the Dukes of Brabant, Brussels (poss. 1660s) by Jan van der Heyden, a highly detailed townscape and River Landscape with Figures in Boats and Church in the Distance (1664) by Salomon van Ruysdael, a typically Dutch river scene at evening.
Van Ruysdael, a native of Haarlem and uncle of the famous landscape painter Jacob van Ruisdael, became well known by the late 1620s for his naturalistic landscapes a trait typical of the Haarlem school of landscape painters, who were noted for their close observation of nature. During the 1630s, he began to execute river scenes characterised by restrained colour and use of low tones. Towards the end of the decade, however, he abandoned this palette and began to employ brighter colours.
This change of approach can be seen in this painting, in the patches of blue sky shot with grey clouds and in the red of the boat passengers coats. An air of calmness and serenity pervades the darkening scene, a characteristic to be found in van Ruysdaels landscapes in general.