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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.The unexpected repayment of a war debt by Austria finally moved the government to buy Angerstein's collection, for £57,000.The National Gallery opened to the public on , housed in Angerstein's former townhouse at No. 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.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, and that a suitable building was to be found.
The location was a significant one, between the wealthy West End and poorer areas to the east.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.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. 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".