The V&A Paintings collection includes British and European oil and watercolour paintings as well as over 2,000 miniatures, for which the Museum holds the national collection.
Highlights include the Raphael Cartoons and major works by J. M. W. Turner and John Constable.
The Paintings collection was an original part of the Museum of Ornamental Art, later re-named the Victoria and Albert Museum, which opened at South Kensington in June 1857. In that year John Sheepshanks offered the Museum his collection of around 500 modern British oil paintings, watercolours and drawings to found a 'National Gallery of British Art'.
He preferred the 'open and airy situation' of South Kensington to the polluted atmosphere of central London, and believed in the importance of making art accessible to the public. The first of his galleries opened in 1857 and is the earliest surviving part of the V&A.