Painting in Focus: In Conversation - The Ambassadors

Monday 10th May 6.00pm

Join National Gallery lecturer Siân Walters and interviewer Peter Cassidy in a live, interactive discussion as we explore Holbein's Ambassadors, one of the most popular portraits in the history of art.

Yet what seems to be a straightforward painting is actually something of an enigma. It is now one of the most famous paintings in the world, instantly recognizable, and yet there is still much we do not know. What exactly is the meaning of the scientific objects on the table?  How and where did it originally hang? What hidden symbols does the painting contain? Why is the skull in the foreground deliberately distorted? And why does it represent a turning point in the artist's career? Together we will answer these questions and examine the history of this intriguing and ever-popular masterpiece in the National Gallery

The interview will use Zoom Meetings (rather than Webinars) allowing you to participate and ask questions throughout this informal discussion using webcams and microphones if you wish. Places are therefore limited. 

This is a live event starting at 6.00pm (UK time) and will last one hour.  Tune in from anywhere in the world to join or watch on catch up. For those who are unable to participate live, you will automatically be sent a recording soon after the end of the session enabling you to watch later that evening or the following day. Please note, the recording is only available to those who have not been able to participate live, and it is not possible to purchase a recording after booking has closed.

Booking closes the day before the event is streamed. Please refer to the Further Information panel below. 


Further Information


1. BOOK.

Click on the gold “Book This Course/Event” button on the right hand side now, fill in the online booking form and pay online. You will be notified automatically by email once your booking has been accepted.

Please ensure you enter your email address correctly, as your Zoom link will be sent to this address, thank you.

The participation fee is £10.00 per person, if making bookings for a number of people please provide their email addresses and book them as separate participants.


Download ZOOM once you have booked - please print/download the instructions in this downloadable link and read them carefully.  Zoom works best when using Google Chrome


You will receive an email approximately 24-48 hours in advance of the event asking you to register.** This is a privacy function enabling only registered participants to attend. After registering you will receive the Zoom log in link immediately both on your screen and by email, please keep it safe as you will need it to log in

** Please note that these details are sent out in office hours, so if you book on a weekend you may not receive them until Monday. You must register with the same name that you have booked under and at least 45 minutes before the lecture begins, otherwise you may not be able to watch. If you have not received your email confirmations, please check your ‘deleted items' and 'junk mail' folders.


Join the lecture from ten minutes before it is scheduled to start, to ensure everything is working

If you are not able to watch the lecture at the time it is live-streamed, you can still book online, as above. You will be contacted after the lecture has been broadcast with instructions on how to access the recorded lecture, for up to 24 hours afterwards.You do not need to advise us if you can't participate live, don't worry! Please note, the recording is only available to those who have not been able to participate live.

Bookings close the day before the lecture is streamed.

Please refer to our Terms and Conditions for booking this event. We regret that we are unable to offer technical support with Zoom but tips can be found in the attachment. If you would like to book more than one event, please book separately for each lecture that you would like to attend, thank you. If you are booking for more than one person, it is important that you include their email address so that we can send them the lecture link too. We regret we are unable to offer refunds but don't worry if you are not able to attend, as we will send you the recorded lecture link.

The Ambassadors © National Gallery, London

I enjoy everything you do, but this was just so good! Such fun, so relaxed and informative. Just loved it!”

Mrs C Kissin

Read more testimonials and comments


  • Online, live discussion
  • Informal interview with audience participation
  • Viewable from anywhere in the world
  • Live Q&A afterwards



Booking is now closed.

If you have any questions regarding the course or booking please send us an email

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