The Wallace Collection is one of London’s most interesting museums and celebrates the finest in painting, furniture and porcelain.
In total, the Wallace Collection is home to more than 20 galleries and has increased in volume since its creation in 1897.
Many of the original items come from the private collection created by Richard Seymour-Conway, the 4th Marquess of Hertford. When he died in 1970, he left his pieces to his son Sir Richard Wallace. The museum opened to the public in Hertford House in 1900 and has remained open since then.
Over the years, there has been a number of makeovers including a two-year revamp in 2014 to create a Great Gallery – complete with a new ceiling to increase the natural light in the space.
Highlights of the Wallace Collection
There are close to 500 pieces of sculpture on display at the museum covering a time period ranging from the Middle Ages to 19th century. Many of the works come from Europe, with a strong emphasis on French sculpture.
Key pieces include Germain Pilon’s bronze portrait bust of King Charles IX and two marble busts by Jean-Antoine Houdon. The selection of sculpture from Italy is also key, including Renaissance bronzes such as Seated Venus, the only known work by Giovanni Fonduli da Crema. In addition, Pietro Torrigiano’s moving bust of Christ, made for Westminster Abbey, stands proud among the marble, as does Filippo della Valle’s Cupid and Psyche.
The Wallace Collection houses an extensive collection of European oil paintings from the 14th to the mid-19th century, including Dutch and Flemish paintings of the 16th and 17th centuries and French paintings of the 18th and 19th centuries.
Some of the artists on display include Titian, Rubens, Rembrandt, Hals, Velazquez, Poussin, Canaletto, Gainsborough and Lawrence are all represented, along with Watteau, Boucher, Fragonard, Decamps, Meissonier, Bonington, Turner and Gericault.
Arms and Armour
Unusually, the museum is also home to an impressive European and Oriental armoury collection totalling around 2,500 pieces. Most of the weapons are of Indian, Persian and Turkish origin, ranging in date from the 15th to the 19th century, while the armour is mainly 18th and 19th-century Indo-Persian. In terms of European armour, the earliest sword dates from the 10th century, while the historic firearms collection spans the 16th to 19th centuries.
When is the Wallace Collection open?
Admission to the Wallace Collection is free for all visitors. The museum is open seven days a week between 10am and 5pm, although it does close on December 24th, 25th and 26th.
How to get to the Wallace Collection
The nearest London Underground stations to the Wallace Collection are Bond Street (Jubilee & Central lines), Baker Street (Circle, Hammersmith & City, Jubilee, Bakerloo and Metropolitan lines) and Oxford Circus (Bakerloo, Central, Victoria lines). Each station is a ten to 15-minute walk from the museum, meaning the Tube is a viable option if you’re staying at a Park Lane hotel and using public transport.
The closest mainline station is London Marylebone, which is a similar distance from Manchester Square. For those visitors arriving by bus, numbers 2, 10, 12, 13, 30, 74, 82, 94, 113, 137, 274 all stop nearby. Parking is limited in the surrounding vicinity, meaning visitors are encouraged to arrive using public transport where possible.