Dominating Trafalgar Square in Central London, the National Gallery is home to more than 2,300 paintings and stands as one of the most visited art museums in the world. It was founded in 1824 with a collection that dates from the mid-13th century to the early 20th century and works that represent most major developments in Western painting.
The National Gallery is housed within a building that was designed by William Wilkins and has been expanded multiple times throughout the past two centuries. As the late Victorian interiors fell out of fashion in the 20th century, the modernist North Galleries were added, followed by the postmodernist Sainsbury Wing to house the gallery’s collection of Renaissance paintings. Highlights of the National Gallery’s collection include Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Virgin of the Rocks” and Jan van Eyck’s “The Arnolfini Portrait”, as well as Vincent van Gogh’s fa-mous “Sunflowers”.
Outside the National Gallery stands the 52-meter-tall Nelson’s Column at the center of Trafalgar Square, which is named after a British naval battle during the Napoleonic Wars. The square is home to a number of other sculptures and fountains designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, as well as the Fourth Plinth that now hosts contemporary artworks.
Trafalgar Square has long been renowned as a setting for community gatherings and political demonstrations, together with annual New Year’s Eve celebrations. In addition to the National Gallery, the square is also home to the St Martin-in-the-Fields Church and The Mall that leads past Admiralty Arch to Buckingham Palace.