High art joins high fashion

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The Independent Online
MASTERPIECES from France and the Netherlands go on show together for the first time today as four rooms in the National Gallery open to the public, following a pounds 4m restoration.

The Gallery raised the cost of this, the first of two renovation phases for its North Galleries, from the private sector - and more than half the funds came from France. The designer Yves Saint Laurent has supported the entire cost of the largest room (left) which houses 17th- century Paris paintings, including Philippe de Champaigne's portrait of Cardinal Richelieu. The Queen and the Queen Mother have also backed the project.

Neil MacGregor, director of the National Gallery, described the support as "an outstanding example of European co-operation". The second pounds 4m phase is due to open in the autumn of next year.