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An amazing building and an impressive collection. Not really my cup of tea, but with a wide variety of artists and some incredibly old works - some over 500 years old - it's a strong collection and a must-see for fans of older paintings.Russell D,
The National Gallery is an art museum in London. Founded in 1824, it houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900.
Its collection belongs to the public of the United Kingdom. It is the fifth most visited art museum in the world, after the Musée du Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the British Museum and Tate Modern.
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.
The present building, the third to house the National Gallery, was designed by William Wilkins from 1832–8. Only the façade onto Trafalgar Square remains essentially unchanged from this time, as the building has been expanded piecemeal throughout its history.
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