If you’re feeling peckish, you can have a relaxed lunch in the French brasserie-style Wallace Restaurant.
Housed in a classic London townhouse on Manchester Square, the Wallace Collection contains a world-class selection of 15th to 19th Century paintings, as well as armour, weaponry, furniture and porcelain. It’s a low-key place which doesn’t receive a huge number of tourists – all the better for enjoying your visit.
A Gift to the Nation
The collection was mainly created by Richard Seymour-Conway, 4th Marquess of Hertford, an avid art collector with deep pockets and a good eye. On his death in 1870, he left all of it, and his splendid townhouse, to his illegimate son Sir Richard Wallace. Sir Richard was a famously generous man, and after he died, his widow bequeathed the entire collection to the nation in his honour.
Spanning the Centuries
There are some 5,500 pieces in the collection, representing a wide variety of eras and styles. Among them are nine paintings by Rubens, five by Rembrandt, two by Titian, four by Van Dyck, eight by Canaletto, and many other masterpieces. Look out for Frans Hals’ rakish Laughing Cavalier, described as “one of the most brilliant of all Baroque portraits”, which breaks with contemporary tradition by featuring a smiling subject, giving the painting a light-hearted, spontaneous feel. François Boucher’s beautiful The Rising of the Sun depicts a heavenly scene packed with characters, while you could spend hours deciphering all of the symbolism in Nicolas Poussin’s A Dance to the Music of Time. There’s easily enough here to keep you entertained for a quiet afternoon.
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