National Gallery

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

National Gallery

National Gallery, London, one of the permanent national art collections of Great Britain, est. 1824. The nucleus of museum was the 38-picture collection of the late English banker John Julius Angerstein, which was purchased by the House of Commons; it was initially displayed at Angerstein's former Pall Mall home. The National Gallery's main building, erected (1832–38) and designed in Greek style by William Wilkins, stands in Trafalgar Square. The structure was shared for 30 years with the Royal Academy of Arts. In 1876 a new wing was added, designed by E. M. Barry. The gallery is rich in Italian paintings of the 15th and 16th cent. and has fine collections of French, Flemish, and Dutch masters. The National Portrait Gallery, whose collection dates from 1858, has adjoined the National Gallery since 1896. The Sainsbury Wing, designed by American architect Robert Venturi to display the National Gallery's early Renaissance collection, opened in 1991. The Tate Gallery, which originally controlled by the National Gallery, attained complete independence in 1955 by an act of Parliament.

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