National Gallery, London

National Gallery
The National Gallery, located in Trafalgar Square in London was founded in 1824 as part of a government plan to own a collection of art that held high international stature.

During the 18th and 19th centuries as many monarchies across Europe fell apart, many of the royal art collections that lined the walls and galleries of opulent palaces and estates became nationalized under the control of the new governments. The government of Britain, who was seeking to build an internationally revered art collection chose not to confiscate their own royal collection, which to this day remains under control of the Crown. After having missed several opportunities to purchase impressive art collections, the British government acquired the collection of a banker named John Julius Angerstein. The collection was small, comprised of o­nly 38 works, but they were of the highest quality. In 1824, the National Museum opened in its first location, the former home of Angerstein. This location proved to be less than ideal due to its small size and limited capacity. A new building was commissioned to be built in Trafalgar Square and was completed in 1838 where the National Gallery resides to this day. Most of the building has been renovated with several additions having been made over the years, but the outside facade remains the same as when it was first constructed.

The National Gallery's collection began with Angerstein's 38 paintings, but through donations and acquisitions has grown in size to over 2000 pieces of art. This is small in comparison to the collections of the Prado in Madrid of the Louvre in Paris, but the National Gallery's breadth of scope makes up for this deficiency. The museum houses major works of art representative of most movements of Western art up till the end of the 19th century.