Mobile menu

The Ugly Duchess at the National Gallery [London]

The Ugly Duchess: Beauty and Satire in the Renaissance

16 March – 11 June 2023

The National Gallery latest ‘in focus’ exhibition concentrates on its painting of ‘The Ugly Duchess’ by Quentin Massys. This fascinating painting – a personification of Vanity – is based on a lost drawing by Leonardo da Vinci, which was known somehow to Massys in the Netherlands (along with several other of Leonardo’s grotesques). The Royal Collection holds and has lent to the National Gallery two closely related works – the best surviving copy after Leonardo’s lost drawing, probably by his pupil and heir Francesco Melzi; and a more complex composition drawing in which the old woman appears to be courted by a younger man. The two drawings illuminate Massys’ sources and demonstrate the European dissemination of Leonardo’s grotesques, which for four centuries were more widely known than his paintings. 

Other items from the Royal Collection are on long-term loan to the National Gallery

Back to Loans

Rooms and locations with objects on display