If you can't get to the National Gallery... it will come to you

The best most travellers can expect from a departure lounge is a dog-eared copy of a celebrity magazine and lukewarm cappuccino in a cardboard cup.

But, for train passengers bound for Paris or Brussels, those days are gone. Yesterday, the Eurostar terminal at St Pancras was transformed into a highbrow arts arena thanks to a hundred images from the National Gallery's collection and six giant plasma screens.

People on their way out of London can now sit down at purpose-built coffee tables in the station and flick through an electronic library of images, ranging from art history blockbusters by Caravaggio, Van Gogh, Vermeer and Titian to more obscure works. They then select an image, which is projected on to a 9ft screen.

Those with a fondness for detail can zoom in to study the pointillism of Seurat's Bathers at Asnieres or discover the visual clues to marital hypocrisy in William Hogarth's Marriage A-la-Mode: 2. The Tête à Tête, in which a drunken husband is slumped in his chair while his unfaithful wife rests after her meeting with her lover.

When viewed up close, Claude Monet's The Beach at Trouville reveals signs showing the speed at which the artist worked to fix on canvas the outdoor scene before the weather changed.

A spokesman from Eurostar said that the installation, called Station Masters, could in future emerge at other stations across Europe with works from their countries' respective galleries.

Nicholas Penny, the director of the National Gallery, said the idea was a continuation of a wider initiative by the institution to showcase artwork to the public in a "real world" environment. It follows another of the gallery's schemes in which full-size reproductions of works in gilt frames were placed around Soho and Covent Garden.

The point with this project, said Dr Penny, was to surprise the public into paying attention to the artwork. "This is not a coffee table book which no one looks at. It's a book built in a coffee table," he said.

He denied it was a flagrant "advertisement" for the gallery but said it was an attempt to introduce art into the lives of the public by stealthy "subterfuge". "It's a fascinating way in which we can increase public awareness in the gallery," he said.

The National Gallery is also in discussion with London Underground to reproduce and hang a number of paintings from its collection, as well as that of the National Portrait Gallery, on the platforms of the Bakerloo Line at Charing Cross.

Richard Hill, the brand and design manager at Eurostar, said when the train company first decided to launch the digital art gallery, they took it to a number of gallery directors, including Sir Nicholas Serota at the Tate in London who pointed them in the direction of the National Gallery's collection.

If the scheme proves popular after its three-year tenure in the departures lounge, Eurostar is hoping to attract the attention of other major galleries.

But not everyone saw the usefulness of viewing artworks from a city they were leaving behind. Navdeep Sidhu, from west London, who was travelling to Paris for work, said she would have preferred to sample works from the Louvre in Paris to whet her appetite for her city of destination.

"It feels like it's the wrong way round. I was thinking maybe they could've put paintings from Paris up here and these paintings the other end, so people could get excited about where they were going, not what they were leaving behind," she said. "Having these up here makes me think 'Damn, I missed seeing that at the gallery and now it's too late'."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Dunne, played by Ben Affleck, finds himself at the centre of a media storm when his wife is reported missing and assumed dead

Arts and Entertainment
Lindsay Lohan made her West End debut earlier this week in 'Speed-the-Plow'

Arts and Entertainment
Artist Nathan Sawaya stands with his sculpture 'Yellow' at the Art of Brick Exhibition

Arts and Entertainment
'Strictly Come Dancing' attracted 6.53 million viewers on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant plays Detective Emmett Carver in the US version on Broadchurch

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor goes undercover at Coal Hill School in 'The Caretaker'
Arts and Entertainment
Ni , Rock of Rah, Vanuatu: The Ni live on one of the smallest islands of Vanuatu; Nelson flew five hours from Sydney to capture the 'isolation forged by their remoteness'
photographyJimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style
Arts and Entertainment
David Byrne
musicDavid Byrne describes how the notorious First Lady's high life dazzled him out of a career low
Arts and Entertainment
Sergeant pfeffer: Beatles in 1963
booksA song-by-song survey of the Beatles’ lyrics
Arts and Entertainment
music'I didn't even know who I was'
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl was left in a conundrum with too much talent and too few seats during the six-chair challenge stage
tvReview: It was tension central at boot camp as the ex-Girls Aloud singer whittled down the hopefuls
Arts and Entertainment
Kalen Hollomon's Anna Wintour collage

Arts and Entertainment

TV Grace Dent on TV
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer is believed to be playing a zombie wife in Patient Zero

Arts and Entertainment
Mark Gatiss says Benedict Cumberbatch oozes sex appeal with his 'Byronic looks' and Sherlock coat
Arts and Entertainment
Clothing items bearing the badge have become popular among music aficionados
musicAuthorities rule 'clenched fist' logo cannot be copyrighted
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson will star in Seth MacFarlane's highly-anticipated Ted 2

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in 'Gone Girl'

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
    Why do we like making lists?

    Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

    Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
    Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

    A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

    As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
    Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

    Paris Fashion Week

    Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
    Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

    Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

    One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
    10 best children's nightwear

    10 best children's nightwear

    Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
    Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

    Manchester City vs Roma

    Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
    Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

    Trouble on the Tyne

    Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?