The gallery has relaxed its strict rule as a result of staff finding the task of stopping members of the public from taking photographs inside the gallery walls difficult. As guests can use fee Wi-Fi to research the paintings, being able to distinguish those using their mobile phones for photography was proving a near impossible task.

Some regular visitors are not happy about the lift on the ban, raising concerns the artworks would become obstructed by those using their phones to take photographs.

The National Gallery has released this statement: "As the use of wi-fi will significantly increase the use of tablets and mobile devices it will become increasingly difficult for our gallery assistants to be able to distinguish between devices being used for engagement with the collection, or those being used for photography. "

''For that reason we have decided to change our policy on photography within the main collection galleries and allow it by members of the public for personal, non-commercial purposes."

Bendor Grosvenor, editor of Art History News, said: "Much of the criticism seems to assume that galleries will now be bombarded with flash and 'selfies' but these are public galleries, and the taxpayer who has shelled out to support them has a right to enjoy them however they please."

Temporary exhibitions and certain artworks will be off limits from photography due to copyright reasons and flash photography and the use of tripods will be prohibited.

Vincent Van Gogh, 'Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear', 1889