Georges de La Tour's depiction of a repentant Mary Magdalen gazing into a mirror by candlelight; Jean Siméon Chardin's balanced image of a young boy making a house of cards; Jean Honoré Fragonard's suite of landscapes showing aristocrats at play in picturesque gardens - these are among the masterpieces in the National Gallery of Art, which houses one of the most important collections of French old master paintings outside France. This illustrated book, written by leading scholars and the result of years of research and technical analysis, catalogues nearly one hundred paintings, from works by François Clouet in the sixteenth century to paintings by Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun in the eighteenth. French art before the revolution is characterized by a variety of styles and themes and by a consistently high quality of production, the result of an efficient training system developed by the traditional guilds and the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture, founded in 1648 by King Louis XIV. The National Gallery collection reflects this quality and diversity, featuring examples by all the leading painters - ideal landscapes by Claude Lorrain and biblical subjects by Nicolas Poussin, two artists who spent most of their careers in Rome; religious works by La Tour, Sébastien Bourdon, and Simon Vouet; portraits of the grandest format (Philippe de Champaigne's Omer Talon) and the most intimate (Nicolas de Largillierre's Elizabeth Throckmorton); and familiar scenes of daily life by the Le Nain brothers in the seventeenth century and Chardin in the eighteenth. The Gallery's collection is notable for its holdings of eighteenth-century painting, from Jean Antoine Watteau to Hubert Robert, and including suites of paintings by François Boucher and Fragonard. All these works are explored in entries that will appeal as much to the general art lover as to the specialist.