Edinburgh has a wealth of institutions serving the visual arts, but perhaps none is as grand as the National Gallery. Built by William Playfair in 1848, it opened 11 years later as the home to both the Royal Scottish Academy and the National Gallery, before becoming sole home to the latter in 1910.
The gallery contains excellent collections of sculpture and paintings, some of the latter fairly crowded together on the walls of the larger ground-floor rooms. However, the wealth of great works is undeniable, from Byzantine-like Madonnas through the Northern Renaissance and High Renaissance (highlights include Raphael's Bridgewater Madonna and a handful of pieces by Titian) and on to the early 20th century. Impressionist and post-Impressionist work includes Monet's Haystack, Gauguin's Vision After the Sermon and Cézanne's Montagne Sainte-Victoire.
The permanent collection of Scottish art encompasses works by artists such as Ramsay, Wilkie and McTaggart. Among the favourites is Raeburn's The Reverend Walker Skating on Duddingston Loch (aka the 'Skating Minister'), although the landscape looks unlike any view possible at Duddingston. The management of the gallery's shop are unconcerned by such trifling details, and sell the work in print, jigsaw, mug and even fridge-magnet form. Check online for details of temporary exhibitions.