National Gallery

Housing a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from 1300s to 1900s


    The National Gallery is an art museum in Trafalgar Square in the City of Westminster, in Central London. Founded in 1824, it houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900. The Gallery is an exempt charity, and a non-departmental public body of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.  Its collection belongs to the public of the United Kingdom and entry to the main collection is free of charge. It is among the most visited art museums in the world, after the Musée du Louvre, the British Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Unlike comparable museums in continental Europe, the National Gallery was not formed by nationalising an existing royal or princely art collection. It came into being when the British government bought 38 paintings from the heirs of John Julius Angerstein, an insurance broker and patron of the arts, in 1824. After that initial purchase the Gallery was shaped mainly by its early directors, notably Sir Charles Lock Eastlake, 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 encyclopaedic in scope; most major developments in Western painting "from Giotto to Cézanne" are represented with important works. It used to be claimed that this was one of the few national galleries that had all its works on permanent exhibition, but this is no longer the case.

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    10 hours ago

    National Gallery

    Our two figures in Ary Scheeffer's painting look up longingly to the vast clear blue sky. They are in fact Saint Augustine and his mother Saint Monica discussing the Kingdom of Heaven. Shortly afterwards Saint Monica died. This is one of several replicas of Scheffer's most popular picture. The original, finished about 1845, showed the painter's own mother as the model for Saint Monica. Consider the Heavens in Gallery A: ...

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    13 hours ago

    National Gallery

    Trying to get all the kids to stay still for a family portrait seems like a familiar struggle, even when this was painted by Coques in 1664. All the children seem occupied, with one playing with a bird and another with an instrument. The older girl is picking roses in the background. As they are the flowers of Venus, the goddess of Love, this action may be a reference to her forthcoming marriage. Drop into Gallery A and visit the family: ...

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    The association between music and courtship, familiar in Dutch genre painting, is here underlined by the presence of the rose, a symbol of love, on the table. There is a painting in the shadowed background, the only visible part of which shows two bare legs. Hear 'A Woman singing and a Man with a Cittern' by Godfried Schalcken in Room 16: ...

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