It is true to say that the National Gallery came into existence when the British government bought 38 paintings from the heirs of John Julius Angerstein in 1824!

Now the National Gallery is a veritable temple of art, established as an art museum in Trafalgar Square in the City of Westminster, in Central London. It was founded in 1824, and houses a wonderful collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900.

In the collection are rare paintings such as works by Duccio, Masaccio, Uccello, Piero della Francesca, Leonardo, Giorgione, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Vermeer, Chardin, Klimt, Rousseau and Redon.

The Gallery is an exempt charity, and a non-departmental public body of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Its collection is managed by the government on behalf of the British public. To get in is free of charge. Consequently, it is among the most visited art museums in the world, after the Louvre, the British Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The National Gallery was formed when the British government bought 38 paintings from the heirs of John Julius Angerstein in 1824. After that initial purchase, the Gallery was established mainly by its early directors, notably Sir Charles Lock Eastlake, and by private donations, which account for two-thirds of the collection. The collection is small compared with many European national galleries, but very wide in scope. Most major developments in Western painting 'from Gioto to Cezanne' are represented with notable works.

The present building, the third iteration to house the National Gallery, was designed by William Wilkins. Only the façade onto Trafalgar Square remains mainly unchanged, as the building has been expanded bit by bit throughout its lifetime. Wilkins's building was often criticised for weaknesses of its design and for its general lack of exhibition space. As a result, it led to the establishment of the Tate Gallery for British art in 1897.

The current Director of the National Gallery is Gabriele Finaldi.