Painted Hall Project

During 2017 and 2018 the Old Royal Naval College is cleaning and conserving 40,000 square feet of the Painted Hall. This landmark project will return clarity, colour and vibrancy to Sir James Thornhill’s masterpiece. Importantly, the project will also create a more stable environment so that it will be many decades before the Painted Hall needs conserving again.

From April 2017 visitors will have the opportunity to ascend 67 steps to a special observation deck and experience the drama of the vast lower hall ceiling up close. Painted Hall Ceiling Tours offer the chance to discover the painting’s hidden mysteries and learn about the new discoveries made as the project unfolds.

Searching for gold at the end of the rainbow

The Painted Hall contains over 300 characters, some of which are still being identified. Ambassador Simon Davies solves the mystery of one lady in yellow.Read more

From Turkey to England: One Crown, Multiple Stories

Volunteer explainer, Ellen Barnicle, unwraps the legend of the goddess CybeleRead more

Conservation of the Vestibule nears completion

Conservation is now nearing completion in the Vestibule, the first space you enter beneath the Painted Hall dome. Sophie Stewart looks back at the work to date and the techniques used.Read more

Tyranny Personified: casting light on one of the Painted Hall's darker characters

Volunteer explainer, Shane McMurray, introduces one of the darker characters on the ceiling - King Louis XIV.Read more

Conserving the Painted Hall's vestibule

Painstaking conservation work is being carried out in the vestibule, the first part of the Painted Hall that Sir James Thornhill completed.Read more

From Rome to Greenwich: Sir James Thornhill’s copies of Raphael’s cartoons

Why did a set of designs made by the Renaissance artist Raphael come to have great importance in the development of English artistic taste in the 18th century? And what has he got to do with the Old Royal Naval College and the Painted Hall? Our research curator, Dr. Anya Matthews, explains...Read more

Blowing in the Wind: Conserving the Vestibule Dome

Our conservators are now working on four animated figures representing the four winds.Read more

Revealing the mysterious early life of the Painted Hall

Conservation Director Will Palin discusses the early life of the Painted Hall - revealed by new discoveries.Read more

Nelson's Lying-in-State in the Painted Hall

The Painted Hall is a great symbol of Britain's proud maritime past - so it was only fitting that it should become the resting place of Britain's greatest maritime hero, Lord Horatio Nelson. Nelson's lying-in-state was an occasion of great importance in the history of the Painted Hall - and indeed of London.Read more

Sir James Thornhill, mastermind of the Painted Hall

History often overlooks Sir James Thornhill, mentioned occasionally as William Hogarth’s haughty father-in-law. Yet, in his day, the artist was a superstar, whose decoration of the Painted Hall earnt him a fortune, a knighthood, and widespread renown as the “greatest History painter this Kingdom ever produced.”Read more