Hertford House, Manchester Sq · interesting places nearby
Wallace Collection information
Arguably London’s finest smaller gallery, the Wallace Collection is an enthralling glimpse into 18th-century aristocratic life. The sumptuously restored Italianate mansion houses a treasure-trove of 17th- and 18th-century paintings, porcelain, artefacts and furniture collected by generations of the same family and bequeathed to the nation by the widow of Sir Richard Wallace (1818–90) on the condition it remain displayed in the same fashion.
Among the many highlights here are paintings by Rembrandt, Hals, Delacroix, Titian, Rubens, Poussin, Van Dyck, Velàzquez, Reynolds and Gainsborough in the stunning Great Gallery; look out for the Laughing Cavalier by Frans Hals. Beyond the stunning chandeliers and a sweeping staircase that is reckoned to be one of the best examples of French interior architecture in existence, there’s also an astonishing array of armour and weapons, both medieval and Renaisance European and Oriental. There are also temporary exhibitions (paid admission) and very popular themed events involving Marie Antoinette and other French aristocrats, costumes and ballroom dancing (check the website for what’s on when you’re here).
Have lunch at the excellent glass-roofed restaurant Wallace , which occupies the central courtyard, and you’ll have spent one of the most outstanding days in London.