Although one of the initial roles of the British Museum, founded in 1753 as a universal museum, was as a national gallery of art and although from its beginnings it also collected oil paintings of historical interest, the establishment of the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery meant that the Museum’s collection focus turned to paintings related to its own history and collections. Apart from a few landscapes such as 'Stonehenge from the West-South-West' and 'The Double Cromlech at Plas Newydd, Anglesey' by Richard Tongue, the collection largely comprises portraits, ranging widely in quality and subject. They include foreigners, benefactors, excavators and staff and are almost entirely donated, although portraits have been commissioned of Principal Librarians and Directors. Sir Thomas Lawrence’s portrait of Sir Joseph Banks has been judged to be one of the most important in the collection. It should be noted that the Museum collection contains other acrylic, watercolour or pencil drawings that may be of interest. The collection can be researched via http://www.britishmuseum.org and follow the links to collection search.
Great Russell Street, London, Greater London WC1B 3DG England
0207 323 8299
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