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UK - London - Trafalgar Square: Nelson's Column Lion and National Gallery

The enormous lions of Nelson's Column are by Landseer, and have been the subject of much criticism, though they seem appropriate enough today.

 

The National Gallery, located on the north side of Trafalgar Square, has over 2,300 paintings, most on permanent display. The collection ranges from early works by cimabue, in the 13th-century, to 19th-century Impressionists, but its particular strengths are in Dutch, early Renaissance Italian, and 17th -century Spanish painting.

 

The gallery has flourished to international reknown since its inception in the early 19th-century. In 1824 George IV persauded a reluctant government to buy 38 major paintings, including works by Raphael and Rembrandt, and these became the start of a national collction. The collection grew over the years as rich benefactors contributed works and money.

 

The main gallery was designed in Neo-Classical style by William Wilkins and built in 1834-38. Wilkins beat out John Nash, who proposed the location, in a design competition in 1832 with a desire to build "A Temple of the Arts." The building has been widely criticized by critics for an excessively long facade without bulk. This was largely unavoidable, however, because the site was set back to the north because of the protected vista of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, limited to the south because of a workhouse and barracks, and required to incorporate a public right of way through the site. Another stipulation of the design was the incorporation of the coluns of the demolished Carlton House. Nash's financial constraints led him to recycle the relief sculptures on the facade, which were originally intended for his Marble Arch.

 

The most important addition to the building in recent years has been the 1991 Sainsbury Wing, financed by the grocery chain family and designed by the leading postmodernist architect Robert Venturi, to house the collection of Renaissance paintings.

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Taken on November 9, 2006