The National Gallery in London was found in 1824, thanks to the Parliament’s provision of $57,000 for buying 38 paintings from the private collections of John Julius Angerstein. The art gallery is now home to an extensive collection of European paintings from the 13th Century to the 19th Century.
The expansions following the public launch made renovations a norm. English Architect William Wilkins designed the façade of the present building in Trafalgar Square where the collections are housed in between 1832 to 1838. Architect Edward Middleton Barry designed the dome rooms, also known ‘Barry Rooms’, which feature British portraits on the walls and stages diners.
Outside the building resides a sculpture by Grinling Gibbons, which portrays James II of England as an Emperor of Ancient Rome and a replica of Virginia’s Washington Statue. However, the National Gallery continued to expand well into the 19th Century and 20th Century. In 1952, artist Boris Vasilyevich Anrep decorated the foyer with mosaics. In 1991, Sainsbury Wing was launched to house more European paintings from 1260 to 1510.
The most prominent artists featuring in the Italian section of the museum comprise of Duccio, Masaccio, Pisanello, and Fra Angelico. When it comes to Dutch Masters and Flemish artworks, the prominent works comprise of Jan van Eyck’s ‘The Arnolfini Marriage’ and Dieric Bouts’s ‘Mary with the Child’ to name two.
Head to the West Wing of the gallery and you can catch artworks tracing back to the 16th Century such as ‘The Entombment’ by Michelangelo, ‘St George and the Dragon’ by Tintoretto, and ‘Jesus Expels the Moneychangers’ by El Greco. On the other hand, the paintings from German artists in the museum include ‘The Painter’s Father’ by Albrecht Dürer, ‘The Ambassadors’ by Hans Holbein the Younger. Pieter Bruegel’s ‘Adoration of the Kings’ would cap off your visit an oil portrait on oak canvas.
With North Wing and East Wing to cover, you may need a running commentary on the artworks from your tour guide. An array of thematic works is on display at one of the best art galleries in London including artworks that have inspired poets, writers, and celebrities. The gallery stays open each day from 10:00 am to 06:00 pm, and from 10:00 am to 09:00 pm on Fridays. The admission is free of cost.
Visiting the British Museum
British Museum is a must-see attraction in London, boasting of fine arts and artifacts from all around the world. The museum is home to over 13 million artworks from Egypt, Babylonia, Assyria, Ancient Rome, Middle East, and Europe. It was found in 1753 by the Parliament with private collections of Sir Hans Sloane, Sir Robert Cotton, and Robert Harley. However, the collections were moved to the current building in the year 1857 designed by Robert Smirke.
The façade of British Museum is around 403 feet long and features a raw of up 44 columns, which makes the preeminent museum in London city into a neoclassical building that the Brits and tourists adore. The Department of Greek and Roman antiquities has chronicled an array of artifacts in what is the largest portion of the museum. The notable artifact includes ‘The Chatsworth Head’ a quintessentially classical art from ancient Greece widely believed to be of Apollo the Greek God.
The Elgin Marbles from the Athenian temple called Parthenon are Greek sculptures, which were brought to the city of London by the Earl of Elgin at the onset of the 19th Century. The Parthenon sculptures comprise of remains from the namesake temple and a sculpture of Horses of Selene, which was constructed as a monument to the Greek goddess Athena. The sculptures depict stages in her life and other important events to ancient Athens including a religious procession and excerpts from mythical battles of Gods versus Giants and Lapiths versus Centaurs.
Another important artifact in the British Museum is the Portland Vase bought by the third Duke of Portland. It was on loan in the museum since 1810 and was acquired by the Department of Greek and Roman antiquities from Rome in 1945. Tracing back to the last century BC, the vessels are a quintessential example of glass arts from the City of Love. You should also acquaint yourselves with ‘The Younger Memnon’ a bust of the Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II when on a British Museum tour. It is curated by the Department of Ancient Egypt & Sudan.
The ‘Rosetta Stone’, on the other hand, traces back to 195 BC and features the inscriptions that deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphics. Of the Egyptian artifacts displayed in the museum, a collection of mummified objects, sarcophagi, and papyri comprising the ‘Book of the Dead’ is also worth a look. To make the most of your visit to the British Museum in London, go with bilingual guides so that you can understand the bibliography of the artifacts.