10 May 1824

The National Gallery in London opens to the public for the first time.

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, and a non-departmental public body of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Its collection belongs to the government on behalf of the British public, and 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, and 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, an insurance broker and patron of the arts, in 1824. After that initial purchase the Gallery was shaped mainly by its early directors, notably Sir Charles Lock Eastlake, and by private donations, which comprise two-thirds of the collection.

The resulting collection is small in size, compared with many European national galleries, but encyclopaedic in scope; most major developments in Western painting “from Giotto to Cézanne” are represented with important works. 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 essentially unchanged from this time, as the building has been expanded piecemeal throughout its history. Wilkins’s building was often criticised for the perceived weaknesses of its design and for its lack of space; the latter problem led to the establishment of the Tate Gallery for British art in 1897.

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 Gallery was caught in controversy in 2018 over having some of the most expensive exhibition prices ever seen in London.

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, and in 1831 by the Reverend William Holwell Carr’s bequest of 35 paintings. 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 the cause of national embarrassment. But Agar Ellis, now a trustee of the Gallery, appraised the site for being “in the very gangway of London”; this was seen as necessary for the Gallery to fulfil its social purpose. Subsidence in No. 100 caused the Gallery to move briefly to No. 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”. This in turn had to be demolished for the opening of a road to Carlton House Terrace.

In 1832 construction began on a new building by William Wilkins on the site of the King’s Mews in Charing Cross, in an area that had been transformed over the 1820s into Trafalgar Square. The location was a significant one, between the wealthy West End and poorer areas to the east. The argument that the collection could be accessed by people of all social classes outstripped other concerns, such as the pollution of central London or the failings of Wilkins’s building, when the prospect of a move to South Kensington was mooted in the 1850s. According to the Parliamentary Commission of 1857, “The existence of the pictures is not the end purpose of the collection, but the means only to give the people an ennobling enjoyment”.

10 May 1908

Mother’s Day is observed for the first time in Grafton, West Virginia.

Prior to the Civil War, Anne Reeves Jarvis worked to start clubs to teach local women how to care for their children. Following the war, these “Mother’s Day Work Clubs” helped reconcile a region divided. After her death in 1905, her daughter Anna Jarvis envisioned Mother’s Day as a way to honor the sacrifices that mothers made for their children. She worked to gain financial backing from a department store in Philadelphia and in May 1908, she organized the first official Mother’s Day celebration at a church in Grafton, West Virginia where her mother had taught classes for many years. The day, celebrated in Grafton and in Philadelphia where Miss Jarvis currently lived, was a success.

Anna Jarvis worked to see her holiday added as an official U.S. holiday. She undertook a massive letter writing campaign and wrote to newspapers and prominent politicians. She established the Mother’s Day International Association to promote her efforts and in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure to put May 2nd on the map as an official holiday honoring mothers across the United States.

Mother’s Day continues to this day to be one of the most commercially successful U.S. occasions. According to the National Restaurant Association, Mother’s Day is now the most popular day of the year to dine out at a restaurant in the United States. The occasion is now celebrated not so much with flags as with gifts, cards, hugs, thank yous and other tokens of affection. While many countries of the world celebrate their own Mother’s Day on different days and at different times throughout the year, there are some countries such as Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Australia, and Belgium which also celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday of May. In some countries, the appreciation lasts for two days.

Today, Mother’s Day is a day honoring mothers, celebrated on various days in many places around the world. It is the day when you acknowledge your mothers contribution in your life and pay a tribute to her, often with flowers and gifts. It complements Father’s Day, the celebration honoring fathers.