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Virtual Tour of The National Gallery form Google

The National Gallery was founded in 1824 when the British government bought a collection of 38 paintings from the estate of merchant John Julius Angerstein (1735-1823). The collection was first exhibited on May 10 of that year at the Angerstein House at 100 Pall Mall, but in 1838 it was re-opened to the public in its current location. Designed by Greek Revival architect William Wilkins, this neoclassical structure was expanded in 1860, 1876, 1886, and 1975, and the Sainsbury Wing was added in 1991 by American architect Robert Venturi. Prior to the opening of the Tate Gallery in 1897, contemporary British art was also exhibited in the National Gallery. Since 1856, the National Gallery has also been responsible for historical portraits held by the National Portrait Gallery.

Now the collection contains only about 2000 works, but many consider it the most representative collection of European paintings in the world. It has the most comprehensive collection of Italian Renaissance paintings outside of Italy, including works by most of the great Florentine and Venetian masters of the period. There are also impressive collections of works by various British, Dutch, French, Spanish and Flemish artists from the 15th and 19th centuries. Among the artists represented are Leonardo, Raphael and Vermeer. A small collection of French Impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings is notable, most of which are on display.

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