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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 (both made in 1803) were also declined.
Initially the Keeper of Paintings, William Seguier, bore the burden of managing the Gallery, but in July 1824 some of this responsibility fell to the newly formed board of trustees.
The National Gallery at Pall Mall was frequently overcrowded and hot and its diminutive size in comparison with the Louvre in Paris was a cause of national embarrassment. 105 Pall Mall, which the novelist Anthony Trollope described as a "dingy, dull, narrow house, ill-adapted for the exhibition of the treasures it held".
The location was a significant one, between the wealthy West End and poorer areas to the east.Great Britain, however, did not emulate the continental model, and 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.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.