An Essential Guide To The Wallace Collection

Emma Bouloudis

The Wallace Collection is nothing short of an Amalthean horn of Old Masters, period furniture, and illustrious goodies. The Italianate columns make way for dazzling chandeliers and a luscious interior peppered with Rembrandts, Van Dycks, Fragonards, and Poussins. Here’s Culture Calling's guide to making the most of this most captivating of art collections, enchanté… 

Need To Know Basis 
£££? Culture vultures on a budget will be pleased to hear entry is completely free to their permanent collection with temporary exhibition prices starting from just £4.50. To ensure effective social distancing, tickets must be booked in advance, even for free entry.
Where is it again? Tucked behind the hullabaloo of Oxford Street, The Wallace Collection is positioned in a paradisal patch of green called Manchester Square, or if you want to circumnavigate the shops the nearest underground stations are Bond Street and Baker Street.  
When can I go? The gallery is open from 11 till 3 every day, since reopening after lockdown on 15 July.
How long should I spend there? We reckon two hours should do the job, but if you’re rushed for time head straight for the mighty Van Dyck’s and Hals’ ubiquitous Laughing Cavalier. 
How do I find everything? There’s an interactive map right here to help you navigate through their extensive collection, you can pick up an audio tour at the entrance too.


A Bit More Detail 

Unmissable bits 
No visit to the Wallace Collection would be complete without a trip to see the coquettishly befrilled and powder pink lady-of-leisure in Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s Rococo masterpiece The Swing. Taking pride of place in the Oval Drawing Room, you’ll find her set amongst a treasure trove of porcelain and furniture acquired by the milk-bathing maven herself Marie Antoinette. More distinguished masters, including Velasquez, Van Dyck, Canaletto, and Frans Hals await you in the Great Gallery, as well as some fine examples of British portraiture courtesy of Gainsborough, Reynolds and Romney. 

Hidden gems 
The Wallace Collection boasts some seriously impressive breadth including a top-drawer collection of princely weaponry. Look out for the full armour of Sir Thomas Sackville which was forged in the armouries of none less than the right royal lady-killer himself, King Henry VIII. Afterwards, you can discover pieces and objets d'art dated over 500 years old in the Sixteenth Century Galleries, there are ranks of cabinets bursting with glittering coins, miniature wax portraits, and intricate tableware. Pretty snazzy, huh? 
 
Events 'n' extras 
Every day at lunchtime one of the galleries resident art experts heads a free highlights tour recounting the history of the collection, and there’s also regular talks, lectures and workshops for all ages if you feel like stretching your creative muscle. For further info, there’s an events programme chock full of interesting things to get stuck into available on their website here.


Current exhibition 
Forgotten Masters: Indian Painting for The East India Company
What can I expect? A visually exquisite collection of botanical and zoological watercolours, this is an acutely self-aware exhibition reconfiguring the significance of these paintings away from the patrons who commissioned them and firmly to the masterful artists who created them. 
How long have I got?  On until 13 September 2020 
 

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