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National Gallery Visitor Information


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National Gallery - Introduction
National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London

National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London

© Laura Porter, licensed to About.com, Inc.

The National Gallery in London takes up the entire north side of Trafalgar Square. It houses one of the finest collections of Western European paintings in the world from around 1250 onwards. Its masterpieces include artworks from Botticelli, Titian, Raphael, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Cezanne, Hogarth, and Gainsborough.

The neoclassical National Gallery is not based on a former royal collection which is why we do not call it the Royal Gallery. It started as late as 1824 when the British government agreed to buy 38 paintings belonging to the Russian banker, John Julius Angerstein for £57,000 (US$112,000 approx.). Initially the paintings were displayed in Angerstein's home on The Mall (the road between Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace) but a larger site was needed and Trafalgar Square was chosen.

The National Gallery was established for the benefit of all, not just the privileged. It has always been committed to maintaining free admission as well as keeping a central London location with access for everyone, plus extended opening hours. The paintings belong to the public.

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