London has some outstanding art galleries and you can visit many of them for free. In this article, we look at just three of the art galleries that you can visit if you take a trip to London .
The National Gallery
The establishment of the National Gallery dates back to 1824, when 38 pictures owned by John Julius Angerstein, a wealthy banker, were bought by the Government in order to form the basis of a national art collection. These first paintings included works by Rubens, Rembrandt, Raphael, Anthony van Dyck, Sir Joshua Reynolds and William Hogarth.
Today, the National Gallery ( Trafalgar Square , London , WC2N 5DN ) has a collection of more than 2,300 Western European paintings dating from the thirteenth century to the twentieth century, and attracts between 4 and 5 million visitors each year.
Highlights of the National Gallery’s collection include Michelangelo’s The Entombment”, Gainsborough’s “Mr and Mrs Andrews”, Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Virgin of the Rocks”, Raphael’s “The Madonna of the Pinks”, Botticelli’s “Venus and Mars”, Constable’s “The Hay Wain” and Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers”.
In addition to its permanent exhibition, the National Gallery also holds regular temporary exhibitions. You can stop for something to eat and drink during your visit in the Espresso Bar, the National Café or the National Dining Rooms, and there are three shops where you can buy gifts and souvenirs.
Admission to the National Gallery is free of charge, although you will need to pay to see some of its special exhibitions.
The Tate Gallery was initially known as the National Gallery of British Art, and first opened in 1897. However, it later became known as the Tate Gallery, in honour of its founder, Henry Tate. The original Tate Gallery has now grown into a family of four galleries: Tate Britain , Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool and Tate St. Ives.
Tate Britain (Millbank, London , SW1P 4RG ) has an outstanding collection of British art works dating from 1500 to the present. Highlights of the collection include Sir John Everett Millais’s “Ophelia”, Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s “Proserpine” and John William Waterhouse’s “The Lady of Shalott”. The collection also includes works by John Constable, William Blake, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Gainsborough, and contemporary art by artists such as Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon.
Tate Britain also has special temporary exhibitions and is the home of the annual Turner Prize exhibition. You’ll find a café, a restaurant and two shops in the building.
Admission to Tate Britain is free of charge although you may have to pay to see special exhibitions.
The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery ( St. Martin ’s Place, London , WC2H 0HE ) attracts more than 1.6 million visitors each year and has a huge collection of portraits dating from the fifteenth century to the present day, including both paintings and photographs.
Amongst the subjects of the portraits on display, you’ll find members of the Royal Family, Prime Ministers, chefs, composers, fashion designers and inventors.
The gallery has a programme of lectures and other events, and holds regular temporary exhibitions. You can stop for a bite to eat in the café or the roof-top restaurant, and there is also a gift shop.
Admission to the National Portrait Gallery is free of charge, but you may need to pay to see some of the temporary exhibitions.