Skip to main content

Gallery A

Room closed

Since its construction in 1975, Gallery A has provided additional space for the display of paintings and it offers the public a chance to explore a selection of paintings from across the Gallery's collection in a single space. The paintings, dating from the 13th to the early 20th centuries, are hung in broadly chronological order; by its compact character the display emphasises the range and variety of the collection as a whole.

To facilitate viewing of the paintings hanging in Gallery A online, they have been organised into two chronological groups. Please click on the following links to view thumbnails of the paintings:

Explore Gallery A: Paintings 1250–1600
Explore Gallery A: Paintings after 1600

History of the collection

From its foundation in 1824, the National Gallery's collection has expanded through purchases and gifts. It soon outgrew its original site, a town-house on Pall Mall. The collection was transferred in 1838 to the purpose-built gallery on Trafalgar Square designed by William Wilkins. Pictures were arranged by the place and period in which they were painted, a practice that has continued to this day. This is illustrated in Giuseppe Gabrielli's painting where visitors are depicted in the Barry rooms, a suite of sumptuously decorated galleries which opened in 1876.

Additions to the building subsequently became necessary: the most recent extensions have been the North Wing galleries in 1975 and the Sainsbury Wing in 1991. By the 1920s the practice of hanging paintings in tiers was abandoned. Paintings of secondary quality were displayed in rooms that were less grand, or put in store, rather than hung high on the walls of the main floor.