Three collections to get to know in London:
THE WALLACE COLLECTION
Hertford House, Manchester Square, London W1U 3BN (Free Admission)
Showing works of art collected in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by the first four Marquesses of Hertford and Sir Richard Wallace, the son of the 4th Marquess, it was bequeathed to the British nation by Sir Richard’s widow, Lady Wallace, in 1897. It has superb collections of paintings, porcelain, furniture, gold boxes and princely arms and armour. Displayed at Hertford House, the main London townhouse of its former owners, the Wallace Collection remains a stunning yet accessible collection.
THE COURTAULD GALLERY
Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 0RN
The collection of The Courtauld Gallery is the result of a series of gifts and bequests by some of the leading collectors of the 19th and 20th centuries, including Samuel Courtauld and Count Antoine Seilern. The collection stretches from the early Renaissance into the 20th century and is is particularly renowned for its unrivalled collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings.
Somerset House is a spectacular 18th century building on the banks of the Thames. Once the home of the Royal Academy of Art, the galleries are an elegant and intimate space in which to enjoy the collection.
SIR JOHN SOANE’S MUSEUM
13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, WC2A 3BP
Known as “the best house-museum in the world”, the Museum’s collection includes Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress and An Election, Canaletto’s Riva degli Schiavoni Looking West, the alabaster sarcophagus of Seti I, 30,000 architectural drawings, 6,857 historical volumes, 252 historical architectural models as well as important examples of furniture and decorative arts. Soane designed this house to live in, but also as a setting for his antiquities and his works of art. After the death of his wife (1815), he lived here alone and eventually established the house as a museum to which ‘amateurs and students’ should have access.