The National Gallery
- Something for Everyone
In 1824 Britain didn't have a national collection of art for all to see, only private collections. So the House of Commons decided to buy one in an effort to keep up with the republican French. They paid £57, 000 pounds for the private collection of John Angerstein but they didn't have a building to house the gallery, so they just left them on display in John's house in Pall Mall. The satirical magazine Punch had great fun comparing pictures of John Angerstein's town house with the epic Louvre Gallery building in Paris.
The National Gallery Houses over two thousand paintings dating from the thirteenth century up to nineteen hundred. Modern works from the National Collection are housed by the Tate galleries.
There are several works to see by Vincent Vin Gogh including his famous Sunflowers. Vin Gogh is famous for his emotive use of colour and he was one of the first artists to use colour freely rather than paint things exactly as they appeared. He's also famous for being a tortured soul who cut off his own ear and committed suicide at the age of thirty-seven. In spite of his pain it's the joyful quality of his paintings that shines through. A quality epitomised by his famous sunflowers on display here.
You can see works by John Constable here too. Although now considered one of the best of British painters he never achieved commercial success in his lifetime. He was better received by the French than the English. He loved painting landscapes near his home and focused on using oils to capture the moods of the changing light.
Claude Monet's painting 'Impression, Sunrise' gave the name to the impressionist movement in art. Characterised by a gorgeous and subtle approach to light and shadow the style eschewed the use of harsh lines. The most famous of Monet's works housed here is The Water Lilly Pond. Monet made a lilly pond in his back garden in Giverny and painted it many times.
Another fine treasure to be found here is Botticelli's Mars and Venus. Painted over five hundred years ago most likely in Florence. Botticelli was an early renaissance artist who generally painted religious and mythical figures. His most famous work is the Birth of Venus depicting the Goddess emerging from the ocean in an Oyster shell. That painting is to be found in the Uffizi in Florence.
There are also works by Titian, Canaletto, Caravaggio, Turner, Rembrandt, Michelangelo and a few sketches by Leonardo Da Vinci to boot.
If you're a real art lover, don't forget that the National Portrait Gallery is just around the corner from the National Gallery too.