Hertford House: The Wallace Collection

Famed as the home of the art museum the Wallace Collection, Hertford House is a must-visit if you’re in central London. It’s home to a world-renowned collection of fine art and decorative art spanning the fifteenth to nineteenth centuries, including a holding of works by Old Masters including Titian, Rembrandt and Rubens. The museum has been open to the public for over 100 years, since 1900. It was originally based largely on the private collection of Richard Seymor-Conway, 4th Marquess of Hertford, who upon his death in 1870 left his collection to his son, Sir Richard Wallace. Upon Wallace’sdeath in 1890, his widow bequeathed the collection to the nation. Admission is free, and one of the conditions of the bequest was that no object was ever to leave the collection, ensuring that its contents would be protected from falling into private hands.
This is truly one of London’s most incredible collections of art, counting among its 5,500 pieces works by some of Europe’s most acclaimed artists in history. These include nine apiece by Rembrandt and Rubens, eight by Canaletto, and nineteen by Francois Boucher, among many others. As well as its astounding collection of paintings, the Wallace Collection is home to a huge amount of high-quality French Sèvres porcelain, and one of the finest collections of princely arms and armour in all of Europe. In fact, the armoury is by far the largest single part of the collection as a whole, comprising nearly two-and-a-half thousand objects. It includes pieces not only from Europe but also encompasses pieces and weaponry from India, Persia and Turkey. The objects in the European and Oriental armouries span almost a millennium: the oldest sword dates from the 10th century, with weapons and armour from right up to the 19th century on display. The Wallace Collection is also home to a great deal of splendid medieval and Renaissance objects, including Limoges enamels, maiolica pottery, glass and bronzes.
The Wallace Collection is fantastic to simply browse at your leisure, but you can get the most out of your visit with the brilliant range of events which the institution puts on. You can learn how the conservation team painstakingly restores and cares for the collections objects; take an audio guide or interactive tour; or stop for lunch at the beautiful Courtyard Restaurant, which offers delicious haute cuisine in a beautiful environment. The Wallace Collection is devoted to education, and is a fantastic place for children and young people to visit: there are interactive sessions which help bring the objects to life, talks and lectures, and even art classes where you can learn new skills such as embroidery and still life drawing.
Hertford House is located in the heart of London, and the Cumberland Hotel Marble Arch, a luxurious property, just off bustling Oxford Street but just a couple of minutes from the serenity of Hyde Park, is within easy access of this and many of London’s other attractions. It’s easy to get to Hertford House via tube, with Marble Arch, Oxford Street and Bond Street stations all just a short walk away. Its central London location means that there is also ample parking nearby.
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