NATIONAL GALLERY, History

Audio File length: 2.27
Author: STEFANO ZUFFI E DAVIDE TORTORELLA
English / USA Language: English / USA

 

Hi, I'm Alyson, your personal guide. Together with MyWoWo, I'd like to welcome you to one of the wonders of the world.

Today I'll accompany you through the National Gallery.

You should know that the National Gallery is one of the world's greatest artistic treasures!

Get ready to dive into a gargantuan collection of paintings ranging from the end of the thirteenth century up to the nineteenth century, with a selection of art from every Western European school. You should bear in mind that the works in the National Gallery don't come from an aristocratic collection or the spoils of war, but have all been bought by the English State; thanks to donations, bequests, and acquisitions, the collection has grown rapidly over the years.

The gallery was founded in 1824 with the repayment of a war debt from Austria, which allowed the British government to purchase the collection of a wealthy financier. The gallery was opened at his home at 100 Pall Mall, but a few years later it was moved to Trafalgar Square in the building you now stand in with a dome and facade shaped like a Greek temple. The façade and its thin Ionic columns are the only original part of the building that has remained after the multiple renovations carried out to make room for an ever larger collection.

Then the National Portrait Gallery was created in the back, which contains exclusively portraits.

The Sainsbury Wing was the last part of the collection to be completed at the end of the 20th century, and was built over a furniture store that had been ruined by a bombardment. Built in record time, the wing has added a fresh aspect to the entire collection. Its rooms on the ground floor exhibit wonderful antique art collections and the dulled shades of gray stone and light parquet dominate, while as you'll see, the nineteenth-century halls have tapestries with more full, varied colors.

 

FUN FACT: when the Second World War broke out, the entire gallery was moved to Wales and there weren't any works to admire here.

The Londoners, however, continued to come to the gallery to attend concerts offered by a famous pianist at lunchtime, risking the dangers of bombardments.

 

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