Letters to the National Gallery, 1821-1877

Scope and Content

These files relate to all aspects of the National Gallery's activities and the management of its Collection. The series includes correspondence, reports and memoranda addressed to the Director, Keeper, Trustees and other staff of the Gallery. Some of these papers were discussed at meetings of the Board of Trustees, whereas others appear to be of a more mundane or operational nature.

The series also includes a run of correspondence between Charles Lock Eastlake and Jeremiah Harman (1821-1825: NG5/7-8).

Administrative / Biographical History

These records were generated in the course of the National Gallery's daily activities. Correspondence, reports and memoranda relating to strategic as well as mundane issues were filed into this one large series.


The records are arranged in two broadly chronological series:

1821-1877: NG5/1-198

1856-1877: NG5/199-500

Access Information


The papers are available to researchers by appointment with the Archivist.

Other Finding Aids

The most recent and complete list is held on CALM ALM. A paper list is also available at the National Gallery Archive.

Alternative Form Available

The NG5 letters have not been microfilmed.

Archivist's Note

Catalogue revised by Alan Crookham, November 2005.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright is likely to have expired for much of this series of records. However, it is still the responsibility of the reader to determine the exact copyright status of a work.

Appraisal Information

Early correspondence about the Gallery is kept permanently.

Custodial History

The records were transferred to the Archive from the Library, where they had been held for many years. Originally they were catalogued as History Files, probably by the clerical officer Mr R.O. Tudor. The History Files included press cuttings and publications arranged annually. Letters and publications were removed from this series in 1992-1994, transferred to new folders and numbered NG5.

Some letters from Sir Charles Eastlake to R.N.Wornum appear to have been taken from a separate box. These have been titled Letters from Eastlake to Wornum in the list.

Letters between Charles Lock Eastlake and Jeremiah Harman (1821-1825: NG5/7-8) have a different provenance to the majority of the other papers, as Eastlake was not employed by the National Gallery until 1843. These may have been donated privately to the Gallery and absorbed into NG5 at some point. There are a few other instances of this occurrence which are detailed in the list.


Although the series is closed, letters may still be added to the series from the National Gallery Dossiers. In the past original letters were removed from the archives and placed into the Dossiers. These are now being returned to the archives.

Related Material

NG1 Minutes of the Board of Trustees

NG7 Letters to the National Gallery, including correspondence, reports and memoranda discussed at meetings of the Board of Trustees 1878-1914