Major Art Galleries of London
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Major Art Galleries of London

To all who appreciate quality and world-class artworks, London can be just the place for you. Whether you love the old masters or contemporary art, modern sculpture or Impressionist paintings, you will certainly find an art gallery in London that will cater to your artistic taste. The abundance of exquisite artworks on exhibition in the capital city of Great Britain will most definitely inspire the most discriminating art lovers.

Royal Academy of Arts

The courtyard in front of Burlington House, one of the West End's few surviving mansions from the early 18th century, is often crowded with people waiting to get into one of the prestigious ever-changing art exhibitions at the Royal Academy of Arts (founded 1768). The famous annual summer exhibition, which has now been held for over 200 years, consists of around 1,200 new works by both established and unknown painters, sculptors, and architects.  The exceptional permanent collections include Michelangelo relief of the Madonna and Child (1505) and Queen Victoria's paintbox.

Tate Modern

Looming over the southern bank of the Thames, Tate Modern occupies a converted Bankside power station, a dynamic space for one of the world's premier collections of 20th century art.  Up until 2000, the immense Tate collection was drawn from three Tate galleries: Tate St. Ives, Tate Liverpool and the Tate Gallery, now Tate Britain.  When Tate Modern joined this group of galleries, space was created for an ever-expanding collection of contemporary art. Inside you'll find numerous artworks of top painters and sculptors ranging from Monet to Rodin.

Tate Britain

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Formerly the Tate Gallery, Tate Britain displays the world's largest collection of British art from the 16th to the 21st century.  The international modern art once housed here is now held at Tate Modern.  The highlights of Tate Modern collections include paintings by Francis Bacon, and sculptures by Rodin.  In the adjoining Clore Gallery is the magnificent Turner Bequest, left to the nation by the great landscape artist J. M. W. Turner in 1851. 

National Gallery

The National Gallery has prospered since its foundation in the early 19th century.  In 1824, George IV persuaded a reluctant government to buy 38 major paintings, including works by Raphael and Rembrandt, and these became the start of the national collection.  Most of the collection is housed on one floor, with painting hanging chronologically from the Early Renaissance Period of the 13th century to English, French and German painting of the 19th century.  Famous works displayed include paintings by Van Gogh, van Eyck, da Vinci, Holbein, Botticelli, Bosch, Constable, Renoir and Titian. 

National Portrait Gallery

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Often neglected in favor of the National Gallery next door, the National Portrait Gallery recounts Britain's development through portraits of its main characters, giving faces to personalities from the Tudor times to the present.  There are pictures of kings, queens, poets, artists, thinkers, heroes and villains from all periods since the late 14th century.  The main attraction includes a Tudor Gallery, displaying some of the earliest and most important paintings, including one of Shakespeare (by John Taylor in 1651) and the Ditchley portrait of Elizabeth I.

Somerset House

The Somerset House is home to three collections of art: the Courtauld Institute, the Gilbert Collection and the Hermitage Rooms.  The Courtauld Institute, though small, is famous in its own right; on display are the exquisite works by Botticelli, Brueghel, Bellini and Rubens, but it is the collection of Impressionist and Post-impressionist paintings that draws the most attention.  The Gilbert Collection is made up of 800 pieces, including an amazing display of gold snuff boxes, Italian pietra dura (hard stone) mosaics, enameled portrait miniatures and European silverware dating from the 16th century.  The Hermitage Rooms recreate, in miniature, the imperial splendor of the Winter Palace and its various wings, which now make up the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. 

Hayward Gallery

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The Hayward Gallery is one of London's main venues for large art exhibitions.  Its grey concrete exterior is too starkly modern for some tastes, but it is also considered by many as an icon of 1960s "Brutalist" architecture.  Hayward exhibitions cover classical and contemporary art, but the work of British contemporary artists is particularly well represented.

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