Guests at the Montcalm at the Brewery London City Hotel have a lot on offer in the area when it comes to art in the area. The nearby Barbican for instance, which has extensive collections which is the same as the Whitechapel Gallery and much of Shoreditch. Once you’ve exhausted your nearby resources, it may be time for art lovers to search further afield. That’s where the Wallace Collection comes in. Based in Manchester Square near Bond Street, the art collection is housed in a former townhouse of the Seymour family, Marquesses of Hertford. These 25 galleries are open to the public and are made up of paintings and decorative art from the 15th to the 19th century.
Established in 1897, the collection was originally private and had been owned by the 4th Marquess of Hertford, Richard Seymour-Conway. After his death, he left the entire collection to his illegitimate son Sir Richard Wallace and was handed over to the public by his widow. One quirk of the public collection is that not a single item is allowed to be loaned for exhibition elsewhere, meaning that collection is always complete as of the time of its handing over.
The town house dates back to a later branch of the Seymour family, one of the members of which, Jane Seymour, was the third wife of King Henry VIII. The townhouse had an inner courtyard glass roof installed and now houses a café and a restaurant. Each room is kitted out with busts, heirlooms and amazing artefacts from the family’s history.
The collections themselves are grand in scale and comprise of around 5500 objects. In particular, the 18th century French paintings are of note as well as the French furniture and Sevres porcelain which was of high fashion at the time. The collection is split into a number of different rooms focusing on, among other things, Paintings watercolours and drawings in one room, others which focus on furniture, ceramics, European and Oriental arms and armour, miniatures and medieval and renaissance artworks.
One notable artist who is well known and featured in the collection is Rembrandt. An interesting fact about the amounts of Rembrandt painting sin the Wallace Collection was that it was thought for a long time that there were at least 12 Rembrandts in the collection. Over time however, many of these are thought to have been drawn by other artists and followers of Rembrandt’s work. Now it widely thought that four of the paintings in the Wallace Collection are true Rembrandt paintings. These include the Pellicorne Portraits, The Good Samaritan and the Rembrandt self-portrait are thought to be true works by the artist.
Having studied under Nicolaes Berchem in the 1640’s, De Hooch is widely known as one of the masters of the Dutch Golden Age. One of his quiet masterpieces, “Woman peeling Apples” is a prime example of the beauty he found in low key domestic scenes.