Within a few years of the final defeat of Napoleon in 1815, the kind of marine painting that had been practised since the 1750s largely disappeared. The impetus of the Romantic movement had a strong influence on marine painters, who now had other concerns than simply the accurate portrayal of events.
However, the need to commemorate Britain's naval greatness was demonstrated by the foundation of the Naval Gallery in the Painted Hall of the Royal Hospital at Greenwich in 1824. The project was launched by George IV's gift of portraits by Lely, Kneller and Dahl from the Royal Collection. This lead was followed by naval families and other individuals.
From 1844, the marine artists Clarkson Stanfield and Sir Oswald Brierly were the gallery's successive 19th century curators, and George Chambers (d.1840) carried out major commissions for it.
Since 1936, the Greenwich Hospital 'Naval Gallery' Collection – some 300 paintings, many of great importance – has been in the care of this Museum.