The Wallace Collection isn’t the most famous museum in London but it is worth a visit if you’re an art connoisseur.
The Collection houses fine and decorative works of art but also an impressive collection of arms and armour in an historic London town house: the Hertford House.
The Wallace Collection is a family collection in origin. Its works of arts were collected between about 1760 and 1880 by the first four Marquesses of Hertford and Sir Wallace, the illegitimate son of the 4th Marquess.
When the wife of Sir Wallace died, she left the entire collection at Hertford House to the nation to fulfil her husband’s wish. But the of the bequest were that the Wallace Collection remained a closed collection, which means that no works of art could be added except in the most exceptional circumstances, such as completing an existing work of art. In other words, the collection that you can see today is the same that it was when the museum opened to the public on 22 June 1900.
The Wallace Collection is mostly renowned for its array of European oil paintings from the 14th to the mid-19th century which, among museums in England, is surpassed only by those in the National Gallery! Among the painters represented are Titian, Rubens, Rembrandt, Hals, Velàzquez, Poussin, Boucher, Fragonard…
But the collection is also composed of sculptures, ceramics, furniture and decorative works of art.
The French influence is very strong and can be explained by the fact that the 4th Marquess of Hertford and Sir Wallace spent most of their life in Paris.
The arms and armour collection is located in the basement. It’s one of the finest and biggest in Europe. It is also, with nearly 2500 objects, the largest part of the Wallace collection. Both European and Oriental arms and armour are represented. The Oriental part of the collection was mostly acquired by the 4th Marquess of Herford and the European part by Sir Wallace.
I didn’t expect that when I visited the collection the first time and was pleasantly surprised, as I like armour. But don’t ask me why, I don’t have the answer.
The Wallace Collection hides, in its centre, a stunning courtyard which has been converted in a restaurant. As it’s open daily for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea, it’s the perfect place to begin or finish your visit.
My advice, if you want to try the scones, is to only order one per person, as they’re the biggest I’ve ever seen! My boyfriend made the mistake to order three of them and had already difficulties to finish the first one…So for the story, we brought the last two home.
After the cultural part of the day, why not continuing with some shopping on Marylebone High St, my favourite street in London.
-Open 7 days a week, from 10am to 5pm
-Closed only 24-26 December
-Admission is free
-Highlights tour takes place almost every day. Check the website for the time
The Wallace Collection
London W1U 3BN