A spinet is a smaller type of harpsichord or other keyboard instrument, such as a piano or organ. When the term spinet is used to designate a harpsichord what is meant is the bentside spinet, described in this section. For other uses, see below; the bentside spinet shares most of its characteristics with the full-size instrument, including action and case construction. What distinguishes the spinet is the angle of its strings: whereas in a full-size harpsichord, the strings are at a 90-degree angle to the keyboard; the case of a bentside spinet is triangular. The side on the right is bent concavely, curving away from the player toward the right rear corner; the longest side is adjacent to and parallel with the bass strings, going from the right rear corner to a location on the player's left. The front side of the spinet contains the keyboard. There are short sides at the right rear and on the left, connecting the bentside to the long side and the long side to the front; the other major aspect of spinet design is.
The gap between the two strings of a pair is about four millimetres, the wider gap between pairs is about ten. The jacks are arranged in pairs as well, placed in the wider gap, they face in opposite directions. The fact that half of the gaps are four millimetres instead of ten makes it possible to crowd more strings together into a smaller case; the disadvantage of the paired design is that it limits the spinet to a single choir of strings, at eight-foot pitch, although a double-strung spinet by John Player is known. In a full-size harpsichord, the registers that guide the jacks can be shifted to one side, permitting the player to control whether or not that particular set of strings is sounded; this is impossible in a spinet, due to the alternating orientation of the jacks. For an exception to this point, see "spinettone", below; the angling of the strings had consequences for tone quality: it was not possible to make the plucking points as close to the nut as in a regular harpsichord. Thus spinets had a different tone quality, with fewer higher harmonics.
Spinets had smaller soundboards than regular harpsichords, had a weaker sound. For these reasons, the spinet was only a domestic instrument, purchased to save money and conserve domestic space. Harpsichord historian Frank Hubbard wrote in 1967, "the earliest spinet known to me was made by Hieronymus de Zentis in 1631, it is quite possible that Zentis was the inventor of the type so copied in other countries." He further notes that the spinet in France was sometimes called the épinette à l'italienne, supporting an Italian origin. In England, builders included John Player, Thomas Barton, Charles Haward, Stephen Keene, Cawton Aston, Thomas Hitchcock; the spinet was developed into the spinettone by Bartolomeo Cristofori, the inventor of the piano. The spinettone incorporated multiple choirs of strings, with a disposition of 1 × 8′, 1 × 4′, used the same ingenious mechanism for changing stops that Cristofori had earlier used for his oval spinet; the spinettone was a local success among the musicians of the Medici court, Cristofori built a total of four of them.
Spinets are made today, sometimes from kits, serve the same purpose they always have, of saving money and space. The pentagonal spinet was not a spinet in the sense given above, but rather a virginal; the pentagonal spinet was more compact than other types of virginals, as the pentagon shape arose from lopping off the corners of the original rectangular virginal design. More the word spinet was not always sharply defined in former times in its French and Italian cognate forms épinette and spinetta. Thus, for example, when Bartolomeo Cristofori invented a new kind of virginals in 1688, he called it the "spinetta ovale", "oval spinet". In earlier times when English spelling was less standardized, "spinet" was sometimes spelled "spinnet" or "spinnit". "Spinet" is standard today. Spinet derives from the Italian spinetta, which in 17th-century Italian was a word used for all quilled instruments what in Elizabethan/Jacobean English were called virginals; the specific Italian word for a virginals is spinetta a tabola.
The French derivation from spinetta, épinette, is what the virginals is called in French, although the word is used for any other small quilled instrument, whether a small harpsichord or a clavichord. In German and Querflügel are used. A dumb spinet is a manichord or "clavichord or clarichord", according to the 1913 edition of Webster's Dictionary; the spinet piano, manufactured from the 1930s until recent times, was the culmination of a trend among manufacturers to make pianos smaller and cheaper. It served the purpose of making pianos available for a low price, for owners who had little space for a piano. Many spinet pianos still exist today, left over from their period of manufacture; the defining characteristic of the spinet was its drop action. In this device, the keys did not engage the action directly.
The Jacobean era refers to the period in English and Scottish history that coincides with the reign of James VI of Scotland, who inherited the crown of England in 1603 as James I. The Jacobean era succeeds the Elizabethan era and precedes the Caroline era, is used for the distinctive styles of Jacobean architecture, visual arts, decorative arts, literature which characterized that period; the practical if not formal unification of England and Scotland under one ruler was an important shift of order for both nations, would shape their existence to the present day. Another development of crucial significance was the foundation of the first British colonies on the North American continent, at Jamestown, Virginia in 1607, in Newfoundland in 1610, at Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts in 1620, which laid the foundation for future British settlement and the eventual formation of both Canada and the United States of America. In 1609 the Parliament of Scotland began the Plantation of Ulster. A notable event of James' reign occurred on 5 November 1605.
On that date, a group of English Catholics attempted to assassinate the King and destroy Parliament in the Palace of Westminster. However, the Gunpowder Plot was exposed and prevented, the convicted plotters were hanged and quartered. Historians have long debated the curious characteristics of the king's ruling style. Croft says: The pragmatism of'little by little' was coming to characterise his style of governance. At the same time, the curious combination of ability and complacency and shrewd judgement, warm emotions and lack of discretion so well described by Fontenay remained typical of James throughout his life. Political events and developments of the Jacobean era cannot be understood separately from the economic and financial situation. James was in debt in Scotland, after 1603 he inherited an English debt of £350,000 from Elizabeth. By 1608 the English debt was increasing by £ 140,000 annually. Through a crash program of selling off Royal demesnes, Lord Treasurer Robert Cecil reduced the debt to £300,000 and the annual deficit to £46,000 by 1610—but could not follow the same method of relief much farther.
The result was a series of tense and failed negotiations with Parliament for financial supports, a situation that deteriorated over the reigns of James and his son and heir Charles I until the crisis of the English Civil War. The Jacobean era ended with a severe economic depression in 1620–1626, complicated by a serious outbreak of bubonic plague in London in 1625. King James I was sincerely devoted to peace, not just for his three kingdoms but for Europe as a whole, he called himself "Rex Pacificus" He disliked Puritans and Jesuits alike because of their eagerness for warfare. Europe was polarized, on the verge of the massive Thirty Years' War, with the smaller established Protestant states facing the aggression of the larger Catholic empires. On assuming the throne, James made peace with Catholic Spain, made it his policy to marry his daughter to the Spanish prince; the marriage of James' daughter Princess Elizabeth to Frederick V, Elector Palatine on 14 February 1613 was more than the social event of the era.
Across Europe, the German princes were banding together in the Union of German Protestant Princes, headquartered in Heidelberg, the capital of the Palatine. King James calculated that his daughter's marriage would give him diplomatic leverage among the Protestants, he thus would be able to broker peaceful settlements. In his naïveté, he did not realize that both sides were playing him as a tool for their own goal of achieving destruction of the other side; the Catholics in Spain, as well as the Emperor Ferdinand II, the Vienna-based leader of the Habsburgs who controlled the Holy Roman Empire were both influenced by the Catholic counter-Reformation. They had the goal of expelling Protestantism from their domains. Lord Buckingham, the actual ruler of Britain, wanted an alliance with Spain. Buckingham took Charles with him to Spain to woo the Princess. However, Spain's terms were that James must drop no marriage. Buckingham and Charles were humiliated and Buckingham became the leader of the widespread British demand for a war against Spain.
Meanwhile, the Protestant princes looked to Britain, since it was the strongest of all the Protestant countries, to give military support for their cause. His son-in-law and daughter became queen of Bohemia, which outraged Vienna; the Thirty Years' War began, as the Habsburg Emperor ousted the new king and queen of Bohemia, massacred their followers. Catholic Bavaria invaded the Palatine, James’s son-in-law begged for James’s military intervention. James realized his policies had backfired and refused these pleas, he kept Britain out of the European-wide war that proved so devastating for three decades. James's backup plan was to marry his son Charles to a French Catholic princess, who would bring a handsome dowry. Parliament and the British people were opposed to any Catholic marriage, were demanding immediate war with Spain, favored with the Protestant cause in Europe. James had alienated both elite and popular opinion in Britain, Parliament was cutting back its financing. Historians credit James for pulling back from a major war at the last minute, keeping Britain in peace.
Frederick and Elizabeth's election as King and Queen of Bohemia in 1619, the conflict that resulted, marked the beginning of the disastrous Thirty Years' War. King James' determination
William Byrd, was an English composer of the Renaissance. He wrote in many of the forms current in England at the time, including various types of sacred and secular polyphony and consort music. Although he produced sacred music for Anglican services, sometime during the 1570s he became a Roman Catholic and wrote Catholic sacred music in his life. Thanks to the research of John Harley, knowledge of Byrd's biography has expanded in recent years. Thomas Byrd, the grandson of Richard Byrd of Ingatestone, Essex moved to London in the 15th century. Thereafter succeeding generations of the family are described as gentlemen. William Byrd was born in London, the son of another Thomas Byrd about whom nothing further is known, his wife, Margery; the specific year of Byrd's birth is uncertain. In his will, dated 15 November 1622, he describes himself as "in the 80th year of age", suggesting a birthdate of 1542 or 1543; however a document dated 2 October 1598 written in his own hand states that he is "58 yeares or ther abouts", indicating an earlier birthdate of 1539 or 1540.
Byrd had two brothers and John, who became London merchants, four sisters, Barbara and Martha. There is no documentary evidence concerning Byrd's early musical training, his two brothers were choristers at St. Paul's Cathedral, Byrd may have been a chorister there as well under Simon Westcote, although it is possible that he was a chorister with the Chapel Royal. A reference in the prefatory material to the Cantiones sacrae published by Byrd and Thomas Tallis in 1575 tends to confirm that Byrd was a pupil of Tallis in the Chapel Royal. According to Anthony Wood, Byrd was "bred up to musick under Tho. Tallis." Moreover, one of Byrd's earliest compositions was a collaboration with two Chapel Royal singing-men, John Sheppard and William Mundy, on a setting for four male voices of the psalm In exitu Israel for the procession to the font in Easter week. It was composed near the end of the reign of Queen Mary Tudor, who revived Sarum liturgical practices. A few other compositions by Byrd probably date from his teenage years.
These include his setting of the Easter responsory Christus resurgens, not published until 1605, but which as part of the Sarum liturgy could have been composed during Mary's reign, as well as Alleluia confitemini which combines two liturgical items for Easter week. Some of the hymns and antiphons for keyboard and for consort may date from this period, though it is possible that the consort pieces may have been composed in Lincoln for the musical training of choirboys. Byrd's first known professional employment was his appointment in 1563 as organist and master of the choristers at Lincoln Cathedral. Residing at what is now 6 Minster Yard Lincoln, he remained in post until 1572, his period at Lincoln was not trouble-free, for on 19 November 1569 the Dean and Chapter cited him for'certain matters alleged against him' as the result of which his salary was suspended. Since Puritanism was influential at Lincoln, it is possible that the allegations were connected with over-elaborate choral polyphony or organ playing.
A second directive, dated 29 November, issued detailed instructions regarding Byrd's use of the organ in the liturgy. On 14 September 1568, Byrd married Julian Birley; the 1560s were important formative years for Byrd the composer. His Short Service, an unpretentious setting of items for the Anglican Matins and Evensong services, which seems to have been designed to comply with the Protestant reformers’ demand for clear words and simple musical textures, may well have been composed during the Lincoln years, it is at any rate clear that Byrd was composing Anglican church music, for when he left Lincoln the Dean and Chapter continued to pay him at a reduced rate on condition that he would send the cathedral his compositions. Byrd had taken serious strides with instrumental music; the seven In Nomine settings for consort, at least one of the consort fantasias and a number of important keyboard works were composed during the Lincoln years. The latter include the Ground in Gamut by his future pupil Thomas Tomkins, the A minor Fantasia, the first of Byrd's great series of keyboard pavanes and galliards, a composition, transcribed by Byrd from an original for five-part consort.
All these show Byrd emerging as a major figure on the Elizabethan musical landscape. Some sets of keyboard variations, such as The Hunt's Up and the imperfectly preserved set on Gypsies’ Round seem to be early works; as we have seen, Byrd had begun setting Latin liturgical texts as a teenager, he seems to have continued to do so at Lincoln. Two exceptional large-scale psalm motets, Ad Dominum cum tribularer and Domine quis habitabit, are Byrd's contribution to a paraliturgicall form cultivated by Robert White and Robert Parsons. De lamentatione, another early work, is a contribution to the Elizabethan practice of setting groups of verses from the Lamentations of Jeremiah, following the format of the Tenebrae lessons sung in the Catholic rite during the last three days of Holy Week. Other contributors in this form include Tallis, White and the elder Ferrabosco, it is that this practice was an expression of Elizabethan Catholic nostalgia, as a number of the texts suggest. Byrd obtained the prestigious post of Gentleman of the Chapel Royal in 1572 following the death of Robert Parsons, a gifted composer who drowned in the Trent near Newark o
A chord, in music, is any harmonic set of pitches consisting of multiple notes that are heard as if sounding simultaneously. For many practical and theoretical purposes and broken chords, or sequences of chord tones, may be considered as chords. Chords and sequences of chords are used in modern West African and Oceanic music, Western classical music, Western popular music. In tonal Western classical music, the most encountered chords are triads, so called because they consist of three distinct notes: the root note, intervals of a third and a fifth above the root note. Chords with more than three notes include added tone chords, extended chords and tone clusters, which are used in contemporary classical music and other genres. A series of chords is called a chord progression. One example of a used chord progression in Western traditional music and blues is the 12 bar blues progression. Although any chord may in principle be followed by any other chord, certain patterns of chords are more common in Western music, some patterns have been accepted as establishing the key in common-practice harmony—notably the resolution of a dominant chord to a tonic chord.
To describe this, Western music theory has developed the practice of numbering chords using Roman numerals to represent the number of diatonic steps up from the tonic note of the scale. Common ways of notating or representing chords in Western music include Roman numerals, the Nashville number system, figured bass, macro symbols, chord charts; the English word chord derives from Middle English cord, a shortening of accord in the original sense of agreement and harmonious sound. A sequence of chords is known as a chord harmonic progression; these are used in Western music. A chord progression "aims for a definite goal" of establishing a tonality founded on a key, root or tonic chord; the study of harmony involves chords and chord progressions and the principles of connection that govern them. Ottó Károlyi writes that, "Two or more notes sounded are known as a chord," though, since instances of any given note in different octaves may be taken as the same note, it is more precise for the purposes of analysis to speak of distinct pitch classes.
Furthermore, as three notes are needed to define any common chord, three is taken as the minimum number of notes that form a definite chord. Hence, Andrew Surmani, for example, states, "When three or more notes are sounded together, the combination is called a chord." George T. Jones agrees: "Two tones sounding together are termed an interval, while three or more tones are called a chord." According to Monath. However, sonorities of two pitches, or single-note melodies, are heard as implying chords. A simple example of two notes being interpreted as a chord is when the root and third are played but the fifth is omitted. In the key of C major, if the music comes to rest on the two notes G and B, most listeners will hear this as a G major chord. Since a chord may be understood as such when all its notes are not audible, there has been some academic discussion regarding the point at which a group of notes may be called a chord. Jean-Jacques Nattiez explains that, "We can encounter'pure chords' in a musical work," such as in the Promenade of Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition but, "Often, we must go from a textual given to a more abstract representation of the chords being used," as in Claude Debussy's Première arabesque.
In the medieval era, early Christian hymns featured organum, with chord progressions and harmony an incidental result of the emphasis on melodic lines during the medieval and Renaissance. The Baroque period, the 17th and 18th centuries, began to feature the major and minor scale based tonal system and harmony, including chord progressions and circle progressions, it was in the Baroque period that the accompaniment of melodies with chords was developed, as in figured bass, the familiar cadences. In the Renaissance, certain dissonant sonorities that suggest the dominant seventh occurred with frequency. In the Baroque period, the dominant seventh proper was introduced and was in constant use in the Classical and Romantic periods; the leading-tone seventh remains in use. Composers began to use nondominant seventh chords in the Baroque period, they became frequent in the Classical period, gave way to altered dominants in the Romantic period, underwent a resurgence in the Post-Romantic and Impressionistic period.
The Romantic period, the 19th century, featured increased chromaticism. Composers began to use secondary dominants in the Baroque, they became common in the Romantic period. Many contemporary popular Western genres continue to rely on simple diatonic harmony, though far from universally: notable exceptions include the music of film scores, which use chromatic, atonal or post-tonal harmony, modern jazz, in which chords may include up to seven notes; when referring to chords that do not function as harmony, such as in atonal music, the term "sonority" is used to avoid any tonal implications of the word "chord". Chords can be represent
A musical instrument is an instrument created or adapted to make musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can be considered a musical instrument—it is through purpose that the object becomes a musical instrument; the history of musical instruments dates to the beginnings of human culture. Early musical instruments may have been used for ritual, such as a trumpet to signal success on the hunt, or a drum in a religious ceremony. Cultures developed composition and performance of melodies for entertainment. Musical instruments evolved in step with changing applications; the date and origin of the first device considered. The oldest object that some scholars refer to as a musical instrument, a simple flute, dates back as far as 67,000 years; some consensus dates early flutes to about 37,000 years ago. However, most historians believe that determining a specific time of musical instrument invention is impossible due to the subjectivity of the definition and the relative instability of materials used to make them.
Many early musical instruments were made from animal skins, bone and other non-durable materials. Musical instruments developed independently in many populated regions of the world. However, contact among civilizations caused rapid spread and adaptation of most instruments in places far from their origin. By the Middle Ages, instruments from Mesopotamia were in maritime Southeast Asia, Europeans played instruments from North Africa. Development in the Americas occurred at a slower pace, but cultures of North and South America shared musical instruments. By 1400, musical instrument development was dominated by the Occident. Musical instrument classification is a discipline in its own right, many systems of classification have been used over the years. Instruments can be classified by their material composition, their size, etc.. However, the most common academic method, Hornbostel-Sachs, uses the means by which they produce sound; the academic study of musical instruments is called organology. A musical instrument makes sounds.
Once humans moved from making sounds with their bodies—for example, by clapping—to using objects to create music from sounds, musical instruments were born. Primitive instruments were designed to emulate natural sounds, their purpose was ritual rather than entertainment; the concept of melody and the artistic pursuit of musical composition were unknown to early players of musical instruments. A player sounding a flute to signal the start of a hunt does so without thought of the modern notion of "making music". Musical instruments are constructed in a broad array of styles and shapes, using many different materials. Early musical instruments were made from "found objects" such a shells and plant parts; as instruments evolved, so did the selection and quality of materials. Every material in nature has been used by at least one culture to make musical instruments. One plays a musical instrument by interacting with it in some way—for example, by plucking the strings on a string instrument. Researchers have discovered archaeological evidence of musical instruments in many parts of the world.
Some finds are 67,000 years old, however their status as musical instruments is in dispute. Consensus solidifies about artifacts dated back to around 37,000 years old and later. Only artifacts made from durable materials or using durable methods tend to survive; as such, the specimens found. In July 1995, Slovenian archaeologist Ivan Turk discovered a bone carving in the northwest region of Slovenia; the carving, named the Divje Babe Flute, features four holes that Canadian musicologist Bob Fink determined could have been used to play four notes of a diatonic scale. Researchers estimate the flute's age at between 43,400 and 67,000 years, making it the oldest known musical instrument and the only musical instrument associated with the Neanderthal culture. However, some archaeologists and ethnomusicologists dispute the flute's status as a musical instrument. German archaeologists have found mammoth bone and swan bone flutes dating back to 30,000 to 37,000 years old in the Swabian Alps; the flutes were made in the Upper Paleolithic age, are more accepted as being the oldest known musical instruments.
Archaeological evidence of musical instruments was discovered in excavations at the Royal Cemetery in the Sumerian city of Ur. These instruments, one of the first ensembles of instruments yet discovered, include nine lyres, two harps, a silver double flute and cymbals. A set of reed-sounded silver pipes discovered in Ur was the predecessor of modern bagpipes; the cylindrical pipes feature three side-holes. These excavations, carried out by Leonard Woolley in the 1920s, uncovered non-degradable fragments of instruments and the voids left by the degraded segments that, have been used to reconstruct them; the graves these instruments were buried in have been carbon dated to between 2600 and 2500 BC, providing evidence that these instruments were used in Sumeria by this time. Archaeologists in the Jiahu site of central Henan province of China have found flutes made of bones that date back 7,000 to 9,000 years, representing some of the "earliest complete, tightly-dated, multinote musical instruments" found.
Scholars agree that there are no reliable methods of determining the exact chronology of musical instruments across cultures. Comparing and organizing instruments based on their complexity is misleading, since advancements in musical instruments have sometimes reduced complexity. For example, construction of early slit drums involved f
A musical keyboard is the set of adjacent depressible levers or keys on a musical instrument. Keyboards contain keys for playing the twelve notes of the Western musical scale, with a combination of larger, longer keys and smaller, shorter keys that repeats at the interval of an octave. Depressing a key on the keyboard makes the instrument produce sounds—either by mechanically striking a string or tine, plucking a string, causing air to flow through a pipe organ, striking a bell, or, on electric and electronic keyboards, completing a circuit. Since the most encountered keyboard instrument is the piano, the keyboard layout is referred to as the piano keyboard; the twelve notes of the Western musical scale are laid out with the lowest note on the left. Because these keys were traditionally covered in ivory they are called the white notes or white keys; the keys for the remaining five notes—which are not part of the C major scale— are raised and shorter. Because these keys receive less wear, they are made of black colored wood and called the black notes or black keys.
The pattern repeats at the interval of an octave. The arrangement of longer keys for C major with intervening, shorter keys for the intermediate semitones dates to the 15th century. Many keyboard instruments dating from before the nineteenth century, such as harpsichords and pipe organs, have a keyboard with the colours of the keys reversed: the white notes are made of ebony and the black notes are covered with softer white bone. A few electric and electronic instruments from the 1960s and subsequent decades have done this; some 1960s electronic organs used reverse colors or gray sharps or naturals to indicate the lower part of a single keyboard divided into two parts, each controlling a different registration or sound. Such keyboards accommodate melody and contrasting accompaniment without the expense of a second manual, were a regular feature in Spanish and some English organs of the renaissance and baroque eras; the break was between middle C and C-sharp, or outside of Iberia between B and C.
Broken keyboards reappeared in 1842 with the harmonium, the split occurring at E4/F4. The reverse-colored keys on Hammond organs such as the B3, C3 and A100 are latch-style radio buttons for selecting pre-set sounds; the chromatic range of keyboard instruments has tended to increase. Harpsichords extended over five octaves in the 18th century, while most pianos manufactured since about 1870 have 88 keys; some modern pianos have more notes. While modern synthesizer keyboards have either 61, 76 or 88 keys, small MIDI controllers are available with 25 notes. Organs have 61 keys per manual, though some spinet models have 44 or 49. An organ pedalboard is a keyboard with long pedals played by the organist's feet. Pedalboards vary in size from 12 to 32 notes. In a typical keyboard layout, black note keys have uniform width, white note keys have uniform width and uniform spacing at the front of the keyboard. In the larger gaps between the black keys, the width of the natural notes C, D and E differ from the width of keys F, G, A and B.
This allows close to uniform spacing of 12 keys per octave while maintaining uniformity of seven "natural" keys per octave. Over the last three hundred years, the octave span distance found on historical keyboard instruments has ranged from as little as 125 mm to as much as 170 mm. Modern piano keyboards ordinarily have an octave span of 164–165 mm. Several reduced-size standards have been marketed. A 15/16 size and the 7/8 DS Standard keyboard developed by Christopher Donison in the 1970s and developed and marketed by Steinbuhler & Company. U. S. pianist Hannah Reimann has promoted piano keyboards with narrower octave spans and has a U. S. patent on the apparatus and methods for modifying existing pianos to provide interchangeable keyboards of different sizes. There have been variations in the design of the keyboard to address musical issues; the earliest designs of keyboards were based on the notes used in Gregorian chant and as such would include B♭ and B♮ both as diatonic "white notes," with the B♮ at the leftmost side of the keyboard and the B♭ at the rightmost.
Thus, an octave would have eight "white keys" and only four "black keys." The emphasis on these eight notes would continue for a few centuries after the "seven and five" system was adopted, in the form of the short octave: the eight aforementioned notes were arranged at the leftmost side of the keyboard, compressed in the keys between E and C. During the sixteenth century, when instruments were tuned in meantone temperament, some harpsichords were constructed with the G♯ and E♭ keys split into two. One portion of the G♯ key operated a string tuned to G♯ and the other operated a string tuned to A♭
The National Gallery is an art museum in Trafalgar Square in the City of Westminster, in Central London. Founded in 1824, it houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900; the Gallery is an exempt charity, a non-departmental public body of the Department for Culture and Sport. Its collection belongs to the government on behalf of the British public, entry to the main collection is free of charge, it is among the most visited art museums in the world, after the Louvre, the British Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Unlike comparable museums in continental Europe, the National Gallery was not formed by nationalising an existing royal or princely art collection, it came into being when the British government bought 38 paintings from the heirs of John Julius Angerstein in 1824. After that initial purchase the Gallery was shaped by its early directors, notably Sir Charles Lock Eastlake, by private donations, which today account for two-thirds of the collection.
The collection is encyclopaedic in scope. It used to be claimed that this was one of the few national galleries that had all its works on permanent exhibition, but this is no longer the case; the present building, the third to house the National Gallery, was designed by William Wilkins from 1832 to 1838. Only the façade onto Trafalgar Square remains unchanged from this time, as the building has been expanded piecemeal throughout its history. Wilkins's building was criticised for the perceived weaknesses of its design and for its lack of space; the Sainsbury Wing, an extension to the west by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, is a notable example of Postmodernist architecture in Britain. The current Director of the National Gallery is Gabriele Finaldi; the late 18th century saw the nationalisation of royal or princely art collections across mainland Europe. The Bavarian royal collection opened to the public in 1779, that of the Medici in Florence around 1789, the Museum Français at the Louvre was formed out of the former French royal collection in 1793.
Great Britain, did not emulate the continental model, the British Royal Collection remains in the sovereign's possession today. In 1777 the British government had the opportunity to buy an art collection of international stature, when the descendants of Sir Robert Walpole put his collection up for sale; the MP John Wilkes argued for the government to buy this "invaluable treasure" and suggested that it be housed in "a noble gallery... to be built in the spacious garden of the British Museum" Nothing came of Wilkes's appeal and 20 years the collection was bought in its entirety by Catherine the Great. A plan to acquire 150 paintings from the Orléans collection, brought to London for sale in 1798 failed, despite the interest of both the King and the Prime Minister, Pitt the Younger; the twenty-five paintings from that collection now in the Gallery, including "NG1", arrived by a variety of routes. In 1799 the dealer Noel Desenfans offered a ready-made national collection to the British government.
This offer was declined and Bourgeois bequeathed the collection to his old school, Dulwich College, on his death. The collection opened in 1814 in Britain's first purpose-built public gallery, the Dulwich Picture Gallery; the Scottish dealer William Buchanan and the collector Joseph Count Truchsess, both formed art collections expressly as the basis for a future national collection, but their respective offers were declined. Following the Walpole sale many artists, including James Barry and John Flaxman, had made renewed calls for the establishment of a National Gallery, arguing that a British school of painting could only flourish if it had access to the canon of European painting; the British Institution, founded in 1805 by a group of aristocratic connoisseurs, attempted to address this situation. The members lent works to exhibitions that changed annually, while an art school was held in the summer months. However, as the paintings that were lent were mediocre, some artists resented the Institution and saw it as a racket for the gentry to increase the sale prices of their Old Master paintings.
One of the Institution's founding members, Sir George Beaumont, Bt, would play a major role in the National Gallery's foundation by offering a gift of 16 paintings. In 1823 another major art collection came on the market, assembled by the deceased John Julius Angerstein. Angerstein was a Russian-born émigré banker based in London. On 1 July 1823 George Agar Ellis, a Whig politician, proposed to the House of Commons that it purchase the collection; the appeal was given added impetus by Beaumont's offer, which came with two conditions: that the government buy Angerstein's collection, that a suitable building was to be found. The unexpected repayment of a war debt by Austria moved the government to buy Angerstein's collection, for £57,000; the National Gallery opened to the public on 10 May 1824, housed in Angerstein's former townhouse at No. 100 Pall Mall. Angerstein's paintings were joined in 1826 by those from Beaumont's collection, in 1831 by the Reverend