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As the capital of the United Kingdom London is a wonderful place to visit. On my recent visit to the city, 27 May 2013, I went to the National Gallery.
Brief information about National Gallery:
The National Gallery displays one of the finest and most comprehensive collections of Western European painting from the 13th to the 19th centuries. Its first collections were originally from a rich private collector John Julius Angerstein. In 1831 Parliament agreed to construct a building for the National Gallery at Trafalgar Square and in 1838 the building finally opened.
National Gallery is located at Trafalgar Square, at the centre of London. It's easy to get there by bus or underground. It's not very convinent by car as there is a very limit parking area nearby.
What to see at National Gallery:
The collections of National Gallery are displayed according the times. The rooms have different colours to represent different times.
1. Paintings in 1250-1500
Paintings in 1250-1500 are in the rooms of Sainsbury Wing. The highlight paintings of this period include The Holy Family with Angels by Florentine (Italian) and The Baptism of Christ by Piero della Francesca (Italian), etc. I found most of the paintings in this period were connecting with religions.
2. Paintings in 1500-1600
Paintings in 1500-1600 are in the rooms of level 2 and coloured in pink. The highlight paintings of this period include The Ambassadors by Hans Holbein the Younger (German) and Venus and Mars by Sandro Botticelli (Italian), etc. I found from this period some paintings started to focus on the political and social issues. I think painters changed slowly from religious topic to political topic.
3. Paintings in 1600-1700
Paintings in 1600-1700 are in the rooms of level 2 and coloured in orange. The highlight paintings of this period include A Young Woman Standing at a Birginal by Johannes Vemeer (Dutch) and Self Portrait at the Age of 34 by Rembrandt (Dutch), etc. I think the paintings in this period started to focus on ordinary people's life including painters themselves.
4. Paintings in 1700-1900
Paintings in 1700-1900 are in the rooms of level 2 and coloured in green. The highlight paintings of this period include The Fighting Temeralre by William Turner (British) and Whistlejacket by George Stubbs (British), etc. I found the paintings started to express wider topics in this period. It is not until this period that I was able to see some paintings by famous British artists.
Opening times and prices:
National Gallery is open between 10am and 6pm except Friday (10am to 9pm). It's on show 361 days a year (closed in New Year Day and and 24-26 December). It's free of charge for visit but you need pay for the video guide. There are a tea room and shops on the level 0. I didn't try their food as I went to China Town for my lunch.
Due the time limit I haven’t seen all paintings National Gallery can provide. It’s really a pity. However it does give me an excuse to visit it again.
National Gallery is a great place for a day out. I highly recommend it. However before you go I suggest you to visit National Gallery website to learn something if you are like me, who doesn't know much about western paintings.
If you are in London you can also visit Tower of London, which is described as the heart and soul of England, and St Paul's Cathedral, which has been a landmark of London for centuries. For more information please visit my article:
The Tower of London: a must-see attraction in England