LONDON FOR FREE – THE NATIONAL GALLERY
The National Gallery is located in Trafalgar Square in Central London. It houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900.
Unlike comparable museums in Europe, the National Gallery was not formed by nationalising an existing royal or princely art collection. The British Royal Collection remains in the sovereign’s possession to this day. However, dating from the second half of the 18th Century there were a number of proposals for the creation of a national collection with the purchase of private collections, which had come onto the market. A number of such opportunities were lost. It was not until 1824 that the National Gallery collection came into being when the British Government bought 38 paintings from the heirs of John Julius Angerstein for £57,000.
Angerstein was a Russian-born émigré banker and patron of the arts based in London. His collection numbered 38 paintings, including works by Raphael and Hogarth’s Marriage à-la-mode series. After that initial purchase the Gallery was shaped mainly by its early directors and by private donations, which comprise two-thirds of the collection. The resulting collection is small in size compared with many European national galleries but it is encyclopaedic in scope.
With important works most major developments in Western painting from Giotto to Cézanne are represented. Its collection belongs to the public of the United Kingdom and entry to the main collection is free of charge. However specialist exhibitions are staged regularly where an entry fee is charged. When a specific artist is the subject of a exhibition, examples of his work are loaned by other galleries around the world.
The Gallery is among the most visited art museums in the world, after the Musée du Louvre in Paris, the British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is a must for many overseas visitors to London.
For further information go to www.nationalgallery.org.uk/
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