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Archive reference number



The amount of information in each dossier varies considerably. Some include acquisition correspondence, press cuttings, photographs of copies and other versions, letters from academics, other galleries and members of the public regarding information on the subject and history of the picture, draft catalogue entries for the picture as well as any other documentation which might relate to the picture. Others might contain very little information at all. Dossiers in a much more developed format exist for the current National Gallery Collection and are managed and held by the Archive.

Record type


Administrative history

Since its establishment in 1824 the National Gallery has acquired over 6,600 pictures. Its current collection comprises some 2,300 works and the remaining pictures have over time been transferred to other institutions such as the Tate Gallery, the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the National Portrait Gallery as well as other national and provincial museums and galleries.

Custodial history

The dossiers were originally compiled in the 1920s in preparation for catalogues on the different schools of painting. These typically consisted of letters relating to the acquisition of the picture and a photograph of the work. Curatorial staff often added letters from the core nineteenth century correspondence series (NG5 and NG7) and where possible these have now been returned to their original series. Once a painting had been transferred to another gallery, the dossier was passed to the archive for cataloguing as part of the NG3 series; not all works which have been transferred will have a dossier. Dossiers of paintings that are currently part of the National Gallery Collection will be added to this series upon closure.

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