convex one) to large, grand paintings - none larger or grander than Lord Leighton's glorious Cimabue's Madonna Carried in Procession through the Streets of Florence, which used to hang over the main staircase of the National Gallery and can be enjoyed much better here.
There are lovely self-portrait drawings by the Caracci brothers, Piazzetta and Bernini, confronting his mortality with open eyes. There's Rosalba Carriera's last self-portrait, calm and subdued, and a fine selection of miniatures, including self-portraits by Isaac Oliver and Samuel Cooper. On one wall hangs a row of three superb self-portraits from the 17th century - Rembrandt at the peak of his career, in a flat cap, with a gold ear-ring and two gold chains; Rubens exuding self-confidence, creative energy and swagger; and Daniel Mytens (below) turning a steady, half-defiant gaze on us.
Curiosities include a Landseer self-portrait entitled The Connoisseurs, with two dogs (the 'connoisseurs' of the title) looking over his shoulder at what he is painting, a self-portrait by Thomas Patch in which he portrays himself as an ox, and a self-aggrandising effort by one Emma Gaggiotti Richards (a favourite of Victoria's), looking like a kind of artistic dominatrix. There's also an enjoyably brushy Alfred Stevens - A Girl in Pink Leaning on a Chair.
Two high-impact Italian Baroque masterpieces form the climax of the exhibition - Cristoforo Allori's Judith with the Head of Holofernes (the former modelled by an ex-mistress of the artist, the latter by Allori himself, or so it is believed) and Artemisia Gentileschi's stunning Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting (top). This virtuoso work, brilliantly conceived and executed, would alone be worth the price of admission. Talking of which, if you gift-aid your entry fee you can get a free pass for the rest of the year to this always rewarding gallery.