The Scottish National Gallery is the national art gallery. It is located on The Mound in central Edinburgh, in a neoclassical building designed by William Henry Playfair, and first opened to the public in 1859.
The origins of Scotland's national collection lie with the Royal Institution for the Encouragement of the Fine Arts in Scotland, founded in 1819. It began to acquire paintings, and in 1828 the Royal Institution building opened on The Mound. In 1826, the Scottish Academy was founded by a group of artists as an offshoot of the Royal Institution, and in 1838 it became the Royal Scottish Academy (RSA). A key aim of the RSA was the founding of a national collection. It began to build up a collection and from 1835 rented exhibition space within the Royal Institution building.
In the 1840s, plans were put in place for a new building to house the RSA. William Henry Playfair was commissioned to prepare designs, and on 30 August 1850, Prince Albert laid the foundation stone. The building was originally divided along the middle, with the east half housing the exhibition galleries of the RSA, and the western half containing the new National Gallery, formed from the collection of the Royal Institution. In 1912 the RSA moved into the Royal Institution building, which remains known as the Royal Scottish Academy Building. At this time, internal remodelling was carried out by William Thomas Oldrieve. When it re-opened, the gallery concentrated on building its permanent collection of Scottish and European art for the nation of Scotland
Additional basement galleries were constructed in 1970. In the early 21st century, the Playfair Project saw the renovation of the Royal Scottish Academy Building and the construction of an underground connecting space between the Gallery and the Academy Building. Construction took five years and cost £32 million. The new underground space was opened as the Weston Link in August 2004. Designed by John Miller and Partners, the link, now known as the Gardens Entrance, provides a new access from Princes Street Gardens and contains a lecture theatre, education area, shop, restaurant and an interactive gallery.
The research facilities at the Scottish National Gallery include the Prints and Drawings Collection of over 30,000 works on paper, from the early Renaissance to the late nineteenth century; and the reference-only Research Library. The Research Library covers the period from 1300 to 1900 and holds approximately 50,000 volumes of books, journals, slides, and microfiches, as well as some archival material relating to the collections, exhibitions and history of the National Gallery. The Print Room or Research Library can be accessed by appointment.
At the heart of the National Gallery's collection is a group of paintings transferred from the Royal Scottish Academy Building. This includes masterpieces by Jacopo Bassano, Van Dyck and Giambattista Tiepolo. The National Gallery did not receive its own purchase grant until 1903.
Key works of art displayed at the National Gallery include:
Other artists represented in the collection include:
Vision après le Sermon, Paul Gauguin
Frederic Edwin Church, Niagara Falls, from the American Side
St Jerome and Peter of Alcantara 1725 Giambattista Pittoni
Old Woman Frying Eggs Velazquez
Christ Teacheth Humility 1847 Robert Scott Lauder
Moses Striking the Rock 1525 Le Bacchiacca
Diana and Callisto Titian
The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania, 1849, by Joseph Noel Paton
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