London Art Galleries

The National Gallery

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The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square was founded in 1824, and houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900.

Entry to the main collection is free of charge. It is among the most visited art museums in the world, after the Louvre, the British Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The present building, the third to house the National Gallery, was designed by William Wilkins from 1832 to 1838. Only the façade onto Trafalgar Square remains essentially unchanged from this time, as the building has been expanded piecemeal throughout its history. The Sainsbury Wing, a 1991 extension to the west by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, is a notable example of Postmodernist architecture in Britain.

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National Gallery main website

Featured image: © 2016-2020 The National Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery

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When the National Portrait Gallery opened in 1856, it was the first portrait gallery in the world. Situated in St Martin’s Place, adjoining the National Gallery, it houses a collection of portraits of historically important and famous British people. The pictures are selected on the basis of the significance of the sitter, not that of the artist, and the collection includes photographs and caricatures as well as paintings, drawings and sculptures.

In addition to its permanent galleries of historical portraits, the National Portrait Gallery exhibits a rapidly changing selection of contemporary work, stages exhibitions by individual artists, and hosts the annual BP Portrait Prize competition.

The National Portrait Gallery website

Featured image: © The National Portrait Gallery

Tate Britain

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Tate Britain was built in 1897 on the site of the former Millbank Prison on Millbank in Westminster.

It is part of the Tate network of galleries in England, with Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives. It houses a substantial collection of the art of the United Kingdom since Tudor times, and in particular has large holdings of the works of J. M. W. Turner, who bequeathed all his own collection to the nation. It is one of the largest museums in the country.

From the start it was commonly known as the Tate Gallery, after its founder, sugar magnate Sir Henry Tate, and eventually it officially adopted that name.

Before 2000, the gallery housed and displayed both British and modern collections, but the launch of Tate Modern saw the modern collections move there, while the old Millbank gallery became dedicated to the display of historical and contemporary British art. As a consequence, it was renamed Tate Britain in March 2000.

Visit Tate Britain main website

Featured image: © 2020 Google

Tate Modern

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Tate Modern is Britain’s national gallery of international modern art and forms part of the Tate Group (together with Tate Britain, Tate Liverpool, Tate St Ives and Tate Online). It is one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary art in the world, pulling in nearly 6 million visitors in a normal year, to view a collection covering the period from 1900 to today.

Based in Southwark, in the former Bankside Power Station, which closed in 1981, the building was originally designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, the architect of Battersea Power Station, and built in two stages between 1947 and 1963. It stands directly across the river from St Paul’s Cathedral.

Following a major revamp, a new ten-storey extension designed by architects Herzog and de Meuron opened in 2016, adding 60% more gallery space.

Tate Online

The Courtauld Gallery

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The Courtauld Gallery is housed in Somerset House on the Strand. in central London. It contains the art collection of the Courtauld Institute of Art, a self-governing college of the University of London, specialising in the study of the history of art.

The Courtauld collection was formed largely through donations and bequests and includes paintings, drawings, sculptures and other works from medieval to modern times – It is particularly known for its French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings.

In total, the collection contains some 530 paintings and over 26,000 drawings and prints.

Courtauld Institute of Art main web page

Dulwich Picture Gallery

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Dulwich Picture Gallery in South London was designed by Regency architect Sir John Soane using an innovative and influential method of illumination, and opened to the public in 1817. It is the oldest public art gallery in England.

Until 1994 the gallery was part of Alleyn’s College of God’s Gift, a charitable foundation established by the actor, entrepreneur and philanthropist Edward Alleyn in the early-17th century. The acquisition of artworks by its founders and bequests from its many patrons resulted in Dulwich Picture Gallery housing one of the country’s finest collections of Old Masters, especially rich in French, Italian and Spanish Baroque paintings and in British portraits from Tudor times to the 19th century.

Dulwich Picture Gallery website