The National Gallery has thrived since its opening in the early 19th century. In 1824, George IV persuaded the government to buy 38 important paintings, including pieces by Raphael and Rembrandt, which initiated the national collection. The collection developed as wealthy benefactors contributed with books and money. The main gallery, built between 1834 and 1838, was designed in neoclassical style by William Wilkins. On the left is the Sainsbury wing.
Gallery Guide and Highlights
Most of the collection is located in only one floor, divided into four wings. The paints are arranged chronologically, with the older pieces in the Sainsbury wing. The north, west and east wings cover the periods 1510-1600, 1600-1700 and 1700-1900. Other paintings are in the lower floor.
Drawing by Leonardo
The genius of Leonardo da Vinci glows in the picture of the Virgin and Child with Saint Anne and John the Baptist.
Baptism of Christ
Piero della Francesca painted the masterpiece of early Renaissance, around 1450, for a church of his native Umbria.
The strange shape of the portrait of Hans Holbein (1533) is a distorted skull, symbol of mortality.
Venus in the Mirror
Diego Velázquez painted it (1647-1651) to replace a lost Venetian art.
How to Explore the National Gallery
The National Gallery has more than 2,300 paintings, mostly on permanent display. The collection ranges from early works of Cimabue, in the 13th century, to the Impressionists of the 19th century, but values the Dutch school, the early Italian Renaissance and 17th century Spanish painting. Most of the collections from Britain are located at Tate Britain, while Tate Modern displays the international modern art.
Daily from 10:00AM till 6:00PM (Friday till 9:00PM)
Closed on 24, 25 and 26th December and 1st January
Free of charge
London WC2N 5DN
Closest attractions: Piccadilly Circus, Chinatown, Soho Square and Theatre Royal Haymarket.
Getting there:Westminster, Embankment, Piccadilly, Leicester Square and Charing Cross tube stations. Buses 3, 6, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 23, 24, 29, 87, 88, 91, 139, 159, 176 and 453.
Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7747 2885