03.04.2015
12:35

The Photographers’ Gallery

Address:

16–18 Ramillies Street, London W1F 7LW

Phone:

020-7087 9300

Website:

www.thephotographersgallery.org.uk

Opening times:

Mon–Sat 10:00–18:00; Thur 10:00-20:00; Sun 11:30-18:00

How to get there:

Tube: Oxford Circus

Entry fee:

Free

Additional information:

Café and bookshop

Founded in 1971 at 8 Great Newport Street, a former Lyons Tea Shop, the Photographers’ Gallery was one of the first independent spaces in the UK devoted specifically to photography. It expanded in 1980 into 5 Great Newport Street, and in 2008 moves to 16–18 Ramillies Street. Exhibitions of the work of well-established and up-and-coming photographers are staged here, and the Gallery also awards the annual Citibank Photography Prize. The Print Sales Gallery holds work by some 100 photographers, with an emphasis on contemporary British work.

03.04.2015
12:24

Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology

Address:

University College London, Malet Place, WC1E 6BT

Phone:

020-7679 2884

Website:

www.petrie.ucl.ac.uk

Opening times:

Tue–Sat 13:00-17:00

How to get there:

Tube: Goodge Street

Entry fee:

Free

Additional information:

Limited disabled access. Shop

Located on the first floor of the DMS Watson Library in Malet Place (signs guide you to the lift), the Petrie Museum is attached to the Institute of Archaeology, University College London (UCL) and is used as a teaching resource. It was founded in 1892 by the novelist, journalist and travel writer Amelia Edwards (1831–92) who left to the college, as well as her collection of Egyptian artefacts and library, a sum of money for the establishment of a chair of Egyptology, the first in the country. The professorship was filled by the great Egyptologist and excavator Sir Flinders Petrie (1853–1942), through whose digs in Egypt and Palestine the collection was further enhanced. In 1913 Petrie sold his personal collection to the museum; that collection is now recognised as one of international importance. Amelia Edwards’ passion for Egypt was stimulated by a trip she took in 1873, which resulted in her bestselling book A Thousand Miles up the Nile (1877). Horrified by the neglect of ancient monuments there, in 1882 she founded the Egypt Exploration Fund, which sponsored excavations. Finds from these digs not wanted by the Egyptian authorities were sanctioned for export and through this method Flinders Petrie, the Fund’s chief excavator, was able to direct many valuable artefacts to the British Museum. Amelia Edwards was admiring of Petrie’s careful, scientific and controlled archaeology, but in 1903 he fell out with the Fund (now Society) and set up his own British School of Archaeology in Egypt based at UCL. The Petrie Museum, rather than the British Museum, became the main recipient of his finds.

The museum contains many items, including mummy portraits, from Petrie’s excavations at the Roman-period cemetery at Hawara in the Fayum; from Amarna, the city of Akhenaten; and from Abydos. It also has a great quantity of pottery, displayed on shelving in tall wooden cases. Petrie was one of the first to recognise the importance of pottery finds, from which he derived his system of sequence dating for the Pre-dynastic period. Also displayed are textiles; costume, including a unique 1st–2nd-century ad beaded dress of a dancer; papyri and sculpture.

Only partial display of the 80,000 objects is possible but a new museum is planned, on three floors of the new university ‘Panopticon’ building, due to open in 2008. Until then torches are available for the keen to combat low light levels.

03.04.2015
12:13

Osterley Park (National Trust)

Address:

Jersey Road, Isleworth, Middlesex, TW7 4RB

Phone:

020-8232 5050

Website:

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/osterley-park

Opening times:

Wed-Sun 7:00-18:00 (park), 12:00-16:00 (house), daily 7:00-18:00 (garden)

How to get there:

Tube: Osterley

Entry fee:

Admission charge

Additional information:

Partial disabled access. Shop and tea room

Set in a landscaped park with several lakes—an unexpected large country estate in the suburbs of west London—this former Elizabethan house was extensively remodelled by Robert Adam with a magnificent series of state rooms. Much of Adam’s original decoration and furniture has been preserved, providing a rare opportunity to appreciate the development of his style over almost two decades. The house and its contents also make useful comparison with Adam’s work at nearby Syon House.

 

History of the Manor

A manor house, square-built in brick on three storeys, was first built at Osterley in the 1560s by Sir Thomas Gresham (?1519–79), the wealthiest English merchant of the time. He endowed Gresham College and, after the early death of his son, also contributed towards the founding of the Royal Exchange. The manor house served as a retreat from the City and also as a profitable enterprise: one of the earliest paper mills in England was established here. On Gresham’s death in 1579, the estate passed through several hands without significant alteration, being owned by the parliamentary general Sir William Waller, and towards the end of the 17th century, by the speculator, entrepreneur and founder of fire insurance, Nicholas Barbon. In 1711 the property was purchased by the goldsmith Francis Child, the founder of Child’s Bank at No. 1 Fleet Street. His son, Sir Robert Child, a director of the East India Company from 1719–20, was the first member of the family to live at Osterley but died unmarried in 1721. His younger brother Francis inherited the house and made several alterations to the stables and offices, modelling them on those at Hampton Court. His younger brother Samuel inherited in 1740, but it was his sons Francis and Samuel, the first of the Childs to have been brought up at Osterley, who were largely responsible for the shape of the house today. In 1761 Francis the Younger employed the most fashionable architect of the day, Robert Adam, to transform his hotch-potch Elizabethan home into a sensational Neoclassical building, eventually described by Horace Walpole as ‘the palace of palaces’. On Francis’ sudden death two years later, his 24-year-old brother Robert continued the great work with Robert Adam until 1772. A decade later his only daughter eloped with the Earl of Westmorland. Robert Child died—apparently from a broken heart—in the same year, leaving Osterley and his numerous other estates to his future grandchild, Lady Sarah Sophia Fane. She married the 5th Earl of Jersey in 1804. The house was never fully occupied again as a family home. In 1949 the 9th Earl of Jersey gave the property and some of its original contents to the National Trust.

 

The Hall and Great Stair

The house is approached through Adam’s Grand Portico and across the screened courtyard, the visitor first entering the severely formal Hall. Completed by Adam in 1767, rectangular with alcoves at either end intended to improve the original room’s proportions, the design of the grey and white marble floor echoes the plasterwork ceiling. The walls are decorated with stuccowork panels representing armorial trophies. The elongated pilasters and shallow Greek-key frieze were inspired, like the ceiling of Adam’s masterful Library at Kenwood, by Diocletian’s palace at Split. The niches in the apses display copies of Roman statues of Apollo, Minerva, Ceres and Hercules, and the Portland stone Adam chimneypieces are surmounted by painted grisaille bas-reliefs by Cipriani. They depict The Triumph of Bacchus and The Triumph of Ceres.

The North Vestibule, containing cases displaying part of the Childs’ large collection of Chelsea and Sèvres porcelain, leads into the North Passage connecting the Great Stair with the Library, Breakfast Room and Eating Room, all except the Library designed by Adam in two stages. The austerity of the Great Stair, with its Corinthian and Ionic screens and wrought-iron balusters identical to those at Kenwood, is relieved by the ceiling also designed by Adam for Rubens’ The Apotheosis of the Duke of Buckingham. A copy now replaces the original which was removed in 1949 and later lost in a fire. Rubens’ sketch for the painting can be seen in the National Gallery. Three lamps, probably made by Matthew Boulton to Adam’s designs, hang between the Corinthian columns of the piano nobile.

 

 

Adam Style

The designs of Robert Adam (1728–92), one of the pre-eminent architects of the 18th century, generated a revolution in British architectural taste and interior decoration. The particular brand of light, elegant and highly ornamental Neoclassicism which now bears his name was much imitated during his lifetime. Born in Kirkaldy, Fife, the second of four sons of the architect William Adam, his work was heavily influenced by what he had seen on his 1754–58 Grand Tour, when he travelled to Italy and beyond, met important architects such as Piranesi, and studied the remains of the Palace of Diocletian at Split, on the Dalmatian coast, which he later published in a lavish book, Ruins of the Emperor Diocletian at Spalato. His personal interpretation of Greek and Roman antique remains was blended with Rococo and Italian Renaissance motifs to create the highly elaborate ceilings, friezes and pilasters which are such a feature of the ‘Adam style’. The 1768 publication of Sir William Hamilton’s Greek vase collection (purchased by the British Museum in 1772), with their red and black decoration, inspired Adam’s distinctive ‘Etruscan manner’, seen to startling effect at Osterley Park. These free borrowings were dismissed as mere ‘filigrane toy work’ by the other architectural heavyweight of the period, the academically more rigorous Sir William Chambers.

Many of Adam’s architectural projects were undertaken in partnership with his brothers, James, John and William, while a group of specialist independent craftsmen was used to realise the meticulously planned interiors. Every interior element was designed by the Adam office, whose designs were advertised through the engravings after them by Francesco Bartolozzi and their publication in Robert and James Adam’s Works in Architecture (1778). Joseph Rose and his nephew, also Joseph Rose, provided plasterwork; Thomas Chippendale, Gillows, Ince and Mahew and other cabinet makers produced furniture; and the chief supplier of elaborate metal-cast ornament was Matthew Boulton. Patterned inlaid floors or carpets mirrored the design of the ceilings, richly painted in combinations of greens, blues, lilac and pink. Inset classical scenes were painted by Antonio Zucchi (who had travelled with Adam to Split), Giovanni Battista Cipriani and the Swiss-born Angelica Kauffmann. The latter, admired throughout Europe for her skill, worked with Zucchi on a number of Adam projects before their marriage and departure for Rome in 1781.

 

 

The Principal Floor

The striking white-painted Library, monochromatic like the Hall at Syon, was designed in 1766 to accommodate the Fairfax library (sold in 1885 to save the house from demolition) and is more of a piece than many of the other rooms on this floor. The ceiling in very low relief is characteristic of Adam’s middle years, with paintings by Antonio Zucchi set into the walls illustrating scenes from the lives of classical writers. Above the door is Britannia Encouraging and Rewarding the Arts and Sciences. The exceptionally high-quality marquetry furniture, inlaid with motifs emblematic of the liberal arts, was probably designed and manufactured by John Linnel (c. 1768). Next door, at the end of the North Passage, the Breakfast Room, decorated with reserved pictures from the V&A, provides fine views over the park.

The Eating Room was one of the first rooms designed by Adam for the house, in 1766, and decorated up to the cornice in cheerful pinks and greens. As he later wrote of such rooms in his Works in Architecture (1772), ‘Instead of being hung with damask, tapestry etc. they are always finished with stucco, and adorned with statues and paintings, that they may not retain the smell of the victuals’. The ceiling came first, decorated with appropriate Bacchic motifs (vines, wine ewers, and decorated staves) very similar to early work by Joseph Rose. Paintings and roundels by Zucchi with mainly classical themes are set into the walls. Above the remarkably large chimneypiece is Giovanni Battista Cipriani’s An Offering to Ceres: women and children paying homage to the goddess of the harvest.

Next door is the Long Gallery, running the full width of the garden front and now hung with some important late 17th- and 18th-century Venetian paintings, representative of the kind that might originally have been seen here. Some are drawn from the National Trust’s own collection; others are on loan from private collections, including two from the Royal Collection. On the North End Wall, nearest the Eating Room, hangs Sebastiano Ricci’s Christ and the Woman taken in Adultery. At the opposite end of the room is his Miracle at the Pool of Bethesda, also on loan from the Royal Collection, and both part of a series of seven paintings with New Testament subjects commissioned around 1725 for the palazzo of Consul Smith, patron of Canaletto. On the East (Chimneypiece) Wall hang the limpid Shipping on the Maas at Dordrecht by Albert Cuyp (1650s) and a still-life by Rubens’ pupil and sometime collaborator Frans Snyders. Over the North Chimneypiece is Marieschi’s View of the Rialto Bridge and the Palazzo dei Camerlenghi, with the festive entry of the Patriarch Antonio Correr in 1737. The painting is one of the young contemporary of Canaletto’s masterpieces, and is unusual in being a capriccio or architectural fancy that also celebrates an actual historical event. Further along the same wall hangs Gaspard Dughet’s Wooded Rocky Landscape with Classical Figures. Apprenticed to his more famous brother-in-law, Nicolas Poussin, Dughet adopted the same surname, and his work became especially popular with English Grand Tourists. This painting’s stormy sky is typical of his innovative approach to landscape. On the opposite wall, Aeneas and Achates wafted in a cloud before Dido, Queen of Carthage, with Cupid at her feet by Jacopo Amigoni, is from the Wombwell Collection at Newburgh Priory, the largest of the artist’s works not painted directly onto a wall but probably commissioned specially for Newburgh. It depicts an early episode in the tragic story of Dido and Aeneas from Book I of the Aeneid. The Long Gallery itself has been returned as far as possible to Adam’s original pea-green colour scheme with pier glasses for easier viewing of the paintings. The seating furniture is attributed to John Linnel.

Next door is the Drawing Room, counterbalancing the Eating Room and designed around the same time, much richer in concept, with a ceiling modelled on the Temple of the Sun at Palmyra, inspired by the nave of West Wycombe church. Most probably it was Francis Dashwood, the owner of West Wycombe Park, who recommended Robert Adam to Francis Child. The carpet was designed by Adam in response to the ceiling and was manufactured by Thomas Moore of Moorfields. Horace Walpole, not always an admirer of Adam’s work, considered the room ‘worthy of Eve before the Fall’. The tall pier glasses are also by Adam, along with the inlaid, purely ornamental commodes. The grate in the chimneypiece, itself not entirely of a piece with the room, is made of paktong, an alloy of copper, zinc and nickel, and the only one of such pieces by Adam to remain in situ.

 

The State Apartment

The Drawing Room gives onto the highlight of the tour of the house: the sumptuous State Apartment, already practically out of fashion when commissioned by Robert Child in 1772, though now providing three superb examples of Robert Adam’s style at its most confident and mature. The Tapestry Room has a delicate ceiling, which as usual came first, the central medallion depicting The Dedication of a Child to Minerva. The carpet, again manufactured by Thomas Moore, was designed by Adam to mirror the ceiling and also the Gobelins tapestries on the walls. These were designed by the painter François Boucher (1703–70) and represent the Four Elements in the shape of the loves of the gods: Venus and Vulcan (Fire), Aurora and Cephalus (Air), and Vertumnus and Pomona (Earth). The mirror on the window wall stands in for Water. Over the chimneypiece are Cupid and Psyche. The eight armchairs are backed with oval frames holding Boucher’s Jeux d’Enfants, designed specially for Madame de Pompadour in the early 1750s: the cartoons were not released for use by other clients until 1770. Moving next door, from France to England, from Fire to Earth, the State Bedchamber is dominated by the domed State Bed of 1776, one of Adam’s most ambitious pieces of furniture. Green forms the basis of the colour scheme, as can be seen from the sketch now in Sir John Soane’s Museum. The dome and canopy echo those designed by Adam for George III’s box at the Italian Theatre in Haymarket. The last room is Italian in style, with a colour scheme based on pale sky blue to represent the Air. The other most striking feature of the Etruscan Dressing Room is the wall decoration, inspired by ancient Greek vases and the engravings of Piranesi, and the only surviving example of this type of design by Adam. The room has survived remarkably unaltered, apart from some restorative cleaning. It now looks much as it might have done when first seen, though one corner remains to demonstrate the effect of decades of grime.

03.04.2015
11:58

Orleans House Gallery

Address:

Riverside, Twickenham, TW1 3DJ

Phone:

020-8831 6000

Website:

www.richmond.gov.uk/orleans_house_gallery

Opening times:

Tues–Sun 10:00-17:00

How to get there:

Partial disabled access

Entry fee:

Free

The handsome octagon room, designed by James Gibbs c. 1718, is all that remains of the 1710 villa on the Thames built by John James for James Johnstone, Secretary of State under William III. A garden pavilion, it was supposedly built for the reception of Caroline of Anspach, wife of the future George II. The most famous resident of the house, after whom the place is now named, was Louis-Philippe, Duc d’Orléans, King of France from 1830–48, who leased it from 1815–17. The main house was demolished in 1926–27 but the Octagon survived, saved by the Hon. Mrs Ionides, who bequeathed it to the borough on condition that it was used as a public art gallery. The interior comprises a magnificent domed room adorned with elaborate, not quite Rococo, stucco, executed by the Swiss-Italian specialists Giuseppe Artari and Giovanni Bagutti, whom Gibbs described as ‘the best fret-workers that ever came to England’. The pediments of the chimneypiece and doors support boldly modelled figures, while in the round niches inside the dome are busts possibly representing George I. On either side of the chimneypiece are portrait medallions of George II and Queen Caroline, when Prince and Princess of Wales; a third, above the east door, is possibly later, and may represent Louis-Philippe. The full-length portrait of Queen Caroline c. 1728 is attributed to Herman van der Mijn.

The Gallery, built on the site of the old house, displays selections from its important collection of paintings, drawings and prints, mostly early 18th-century to present day topographical views relating to the area, including works by Leonard Knyff, Samuel Scott, Peter de Wint, and Corot. Peter Tillemans’ early 18th-century The Thames at Twickenham is the earliest known view of the area. At the heart of the collection is the Ionides bequest of over 400 works.

03.04.2015
11:55

Old Operating Theatre, Museum and Herb Garret

Address:

9a St Thomas’ Street, SE1 9RY

Phone:

020-7188 2679

Website:

www.thegarret.org.uk

Opening times:

Daily 10:30–17:00

How to get there:

Tube/Station: London Bridge

Entry fee:

Admission charge

Additional information:

No disabled access. Shop

The operating theatre for the women’s ward of the original St Thomas’s Hospital was constructed in 1822 in the roof space of the church of St Thomas the Apostle adjoining the hospital ward. It was designed to satisfy the new legal requirement that surgeons and their apprentices-in-training observe live operations. Partly dismantled and forgotten when the hospital moved west 40 years later, the operating theatre was only rediscovered in 1956. Following careful restoration, it opened as a museum in 1962, and is now the only surviving example of its type in the country. With its plaster ceiling, bare wooden floor, matchboard walls, and plain operating table of deal, with sawdust box below to catch the blood, the small theatre with its five tiers of standings serves as a salutary and atmospheric reminder of 19th-century surgical practice.

Access is via a steep winding stair to the church belfry, where the discovery was made through a hole in the wall 15ft above floor level. The church and bell tower, on the site of a 13th-century foundation, were rebuilt in 1703 by Thomas Cartwright, master mason to hospital governor Sir Christopher Wren. By the early 19th century, the timbered roof space of the church was already in use as a herb garret for the storage and preparation of medicinal compounds. The museum now exhibits examples of the type of herb that might have been found here: liquorice, comfrey, rosemary, hops, elderflowers, couchgrass, dill (used for gripe water), and marigold (a little less effective against smallpox and measles than saffron). Displays also illustrate the history of surgery, complete with instruments used for bloodletting, scarification and cupping, alongside the revolutionary discovery of antisepsis by Joseph Lister at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary in 1865.

03.04.2015
11:51

Natural History Museum

Address:

Cromwell Road, South Kensington, SW7 5BD

Phone:

020-7942 5000

Website:

www.nhm.ac.uk

Opening times:

Daily 10:00–17:50

How to get there:

Tube: South Kensington

Entry fee:

Free

Additional information:

Cafés and shops

The Natural History Museum’s collection was originally a department of the British Museum, where the myriad stuffed animals, fish, skeletons, botanical specimens, rocks and fossils were first displayed. A critical lack of space prompted the move to South Kensington, an idea which had been aired as early as 1853 but which only came to fruition in 1881, when Alfred Waterhouse’s astonishing new building finally opened to the public. Since then the collection has grown immeasurably. Between them the five departments of Botany, Entomology, Mineralogy, Palaeontology and Zoology contain over 70 million natural history specimens and the museum—as it has always been—is one of the world’s leading centres of taxonomic research (the science of classifying species). The museum gained independence from the British Museum in 1963.

 

The Collection

At the core of the collection is the hoard of natural history ‘curiosities’ of the eminent botanist and physician Sir Hans Sloane, whose entire collection constituted one of the three foundation collections of the British Museum in 1753. Sloane’s items were joined by the eye-opening specimens brought back from Captain Cook’s great voyages of discovery to the South Pacific including the botanical manuscripts of David Solander and the natural history specimens and herbarium of Sir Joseph Banks, both of whom had accompanied Cook on the Endeavour in 1768–71 and were museum employees. Objects from Darwin’s revolutionary voyage to the Galapagos Islands in HMS Beagle in 1831–36 also came to the museum as did, in 1856, the entire collection of the Zoological Society, soon followed by that of the East India Company. The burgeoning collection of specimens from parts of the globe far distant from London quickly outstripped the building’s display capacity and stored items deteriorated quickly. Dr George Shaw held annual ‘cremations’ of Sloanian material. Of Sloane’s original 1,886 mammals, 1,172 birds (or eggs or nests), 1,555 fishes and 5,439 insects only a fraction remains today, although his important 330-volume Herbarium has survived, as well as drawers of minerals from his pharmaceutical cabinet and his magnificently carved pearly nautilus shell.

 

The Building

Waterhouse’s magnificent new building (1873–80), a great secular Romanesque cathedral clad in ornamental terracotta, was built on the site of the International Exhibition of 1862. Its design incorporated the ideas of Professor Richard Owen, a great comparative anatomist and palaeontologist and Superintendent of the Natural History Department from 1856. Owen was the prime agitator for a new museum and envisaged it as a great storehouse of divine creation. A broad flight of steps leads from the road up to the giant portal, centrally placed in the 680-ft frontage, above which, surmounting the gable, Owen desired a statue of Adam, man being creation’s crowning glory (he fell off in the 1930s). Covering the façade and the interior is a veritable menagerie of birds and beasts cast in terracotta, symbolising the museum’s function: to the west, where Zoology was displayed, designs of living animals; to the east, where Geology and Palaeontology were housed, extinct species. Owen’s idea was brilliantly realised in Romanesque style by Waterhouse, whose beautiful designs (based on specimens and natural history drawings) are in the museum library. Extinct beasts line up on the entrance façade, monkeys scramble up arches in the entrance hall, fishes swim in rippling water around columns where further up lizards lurk, and on the stairs animals and birds—including a beautiful pair of demoiselle cranes—peep from twining plants. Waterhouse’s dramatic entrance hall is conceived as a vast nave with a triforium above and, at the far end, the great staircase rising to the upper floors. Owen wished the Hall to be an ‘Index’ gallery, with displays of minerals, plants and invertebrates on one side and vertebrates on the other—a simple guide to the ‘types’ of the animal, plant and mineral kingdoms, carefully arranged according to the Linnaean system of classification. Owen’s successor Sir William Flower introduced evolution to the display, a theory to which Owen had not wholly subscribed. In the centre were large mammals—whales, elephants and giraffes. Today the hall is dominated by the museum’s most famous inhabitant, Diplodocus carnegii, 150 million years old and one of the largest land mammals which ever lived, cast from the original specimen at the Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh and given to the museum in 1905. It is a fitting tribute to Owen, who coined the name ‘dinosaur’ in 1841.

 

Tour of the Museum

The museum today offers a very different visitor experience from the museum which opened its doors in 1881. Instead of carefully arranged classified specimens in mahogany cases are interactive audio-visual life- and earth-science displays on ecology, evolution and man. This popular staging of science, which sometimes fits uneasily in a building designed for scientific knowledge of a different era, was first introduced to the museum in 1977 with the opening of the Human Biology display. It outraged scholars, who believed that the Victorian founding ideal, both to educate and to amuse, had swung too far in one direction.

 

Life Galleries

The mainstay of the sequence of Life Galleries are of course the ever popular Dinosaurs, to the left of the main entrance—a new set of animatronic ones have recently been introduced, including a vast model of Tyrannosaurus rex. Beyond the staircase and through the café (with Chi Chi the Giant Panda who died at London Zoo in 1972 in a case to one side, his skeleton on the other), a corridor lined with reptiles and amphibians leads to the Mammal Hall, almost completely filled by the vast 91-ft Blue Whale suspended from the ceiling, with the White Whale, Sperm Whale and dolphins alongside it. The Zoology department, with over 27 million specimens, is one of the most comprehensive in the world, but only a tiny fraction of the taxidermy, skeletons, jarred specimens and skins are on show. Large polar bears, tiny pigmy shrews, and skeletons of the extinct sabre-toothed tiger can be seen. To the right of the Hall is the Bird Gallery with a remarkable collection of stuffed specimens, some in their original Victorian display cases (only a few remain), delicately arranged against painted backdrops. Of particular note is the dodo. On the first floor is a permanent photographic exhibition ‘Plant Power’; the primates section; African animals; and a separate Evolution Gallery, with Darwin in his study, focusing on his Origin of the Species (1859) and theory of natural selection. On the second floor is a cross-section of a giant sequoia tree from the Sierra Nevada, California, 1,335 years old when felled in 1892. At the time of writing the Ecology Gallery was closed for refurbishment.

 

Earth Galleries

The entrance to the Earth Galleries is from Exhibition Road. In the atrium, lined with extraordinary figurative sculptures, an escalator takes visitors on a journey to the top of the building through the middle of a 36-ft revolving model of Earth, of beaten copper, iron and zinc, with sound and light effects. ‘The Power Within’ explores volcanoes and has an immensely popular earthquake simulator. ‘From the Beginning’ takes you from the Big Bang, the formation of Earth 4,560 million years ago, to the creation and sustaining of life. ‘Earth’s Treasury’ has a display of minerals and gemstones, including the Latrobe gold crystal, a fraction of the museum’s collection of 180,000 specimens. The ‘Earth Lab’ explores the diversity of rocks and fossils, drawing on the museum’s great mineralogy and palaeontology collections, which include 160,000 rocks and ocean bottom deposits, 3,000 meteorites and 30,000 ores, many collected on great expeditions such as that of HMS Challenger in 1872–76 and Scott’s second polar expedition (specimens brought back by the naturalist Edward Wilson proved that Antarctica had once been warm).

 

The Darwin Centre

The new Darwin Centre is the storehouse for the museum’s zoological ‘Spirit Collection’: 22 million jarred specimens preserved in alcohol. Standing in the atrium you can look up seven storeys and see the extent of the storage. A small section on the ground floor is available for viewing, although you can take behind-the-scenes tours of other storerooms and the laboratories where over 100 scientists carry out taxonomic research. The Darwin Centre is the public face of the museum’s core research work of identification and classification, but only Phase I has been completed. Phase II, the proposed new home of the Botany and Entomology departments, where, for instance, the ‘dry’ collections of insects and butterflies will be housed, is scheduled to open in 2007 (C.F. Møller Architects).

03.04.2015
11:44

National Portrait Gallery

Address:

St Martin’s Place, WC2H 0HE

Phone:

020-7306 0055

Website:

www.npg.org.uk

Opening times:

Daily 10:00-18:00 (Thur, Fri until 21:00)

How to get there:

Tube: Leicester Square/Charing Cross

Entry fee:

Free

Founded in 1856, the first establishment of its type in the world, the National Portrait Gallery’s aim was to show images of those who had made Britain great. By virtuous example future generations would be instructed and inspired. As such, the gallery represents the fulfilment of a 19th-century educational ideal. Beginning with the ‘Chandos’ portrait of Shakespeare, the gallery’s first acquisition, an exceptional collection of historical images has been collected over the decades. It includes outstanding examples of the art of portraiture by famous artists, sculptors and photographers and represents distinguished figures from nearly 550 years of British history.

 

History of the Gallery

In 1846, stimulated by Thomas Carlyle’s On Heroes, Hero-Worship and the Heroic in History (1841), which argued that it was the actions of great men that shaped the world, Lord Stanhope made the first (of three) proposals to the House of Lords for the founding of a national portrait collection. In 1856 £2,000 was secured from the government for the purchase of portraits, and in 1859 the museum opened in a small house in Great George Street. Through the collecting efforts of the gallery’s first Director, George Scharf (1820–95), the two rooms and staircase were soon woefully inadequate. In 1870 the museum moved to South Kensington where the collection was hung chronologically, with instructive labels (an early instance of the museum caption) and signatures and autograph letters alongside the works. Finally, in 1889, after a spell at the Bethnal Green Museum, where conditions (condensation, a leaking glass roof) proved harmful to the pictures, the government provided a permanent site next to the National Gallery.

W.H. Alexander gave £80,000 for the new building, which was designed by his chosen architect, Ewan Christian (1890–95). The north block is in Florentine Renaissance palazzo style while the principal entrance, on St Martin’s Place, is inspired by the delicate terracotta façade of Santo Spirito, Bologna. The three portrait busts, by Frederick Thomas, on the entrance façade are the significant figures in the museum’s history: Stanhope, Macaulay (a founding trustee) and Carlyle (who became a trustee in 1857). Continuing round the building are images of artists, sculptors and historians.

The 1998–2000 Dixon/Jones alterations to the building, which swept away the curious mock-19th-century medieval-revival painted decoration in the entrance hall and stairs (part of the improvement scheme of Roderick Gradidge, 1990), have vastly improved the internal circulation. Straight ahead of the entrance lobby, with its original mosaic floor, is the bright, white hall of the new Ondaatje wing. From here, the contemporary collections are to the right; the long escalator takes visitors straight up to the second floor Tudor and Stuart galleries (and off them, the 18th-century and Regency collection); and the new stairs lead to the first floor Victorian and 20th-century pictures. On the third floor is the Portrait Restaurant (reservations essential, although there is also a bar) with its now famous bird’s-eye panorama of Nelson on his column in Trafalgar Square with the Palace of Westminster and Big Ben beyond.

 

NB: Not all the collection can be shown at once. To minimise their exposure to light miniatures, works on paper and photographs are shown in selected rotations and a significant number of works are shown at the gallery’s three main outstations: Montacute House in Somerset, Beningbrough Hall, near York (both National Trust properties) and Boddelwyddan Castle in Clwyd, Wales. The entire collection can be viewed at the terminals in the IT mezzanine gallery.

 

Tour of the Gallery

 

Tudor and Stuart Collection (Second Floor; Rooms 1–8)

The National Portrait Gallery holds one of the best collections of 16th- and 17th-century British pictures in the world, including many iconic images of famous figures from Tudor and Stuart history. The small early panel portraits of Plantagenet rulers, including Richard III, are mostly 16th-century copies of 15th-century images, but are nevertheless rare survivals. The earliest portrait in the collection is the finely painted Henry VII (1505), his hand resting on a stone ledge, a composition taken from early Flemish portraiture. There are few portraits of women in the early collection, unless of queens or mistresses. Henry VIII’s wives Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn are represented, as well as Catherine Parr, a full-length attributed to Master John, and formerly identified as Lady Jane Grey. The most important early work, probably the most important work in the gallery, is Holbein’s famous ‘cartoon’ (pictured on the previous page) for the left hand side of the mural in Whitehall Palace (since destroyed) celebrating the Tudor dynasty. The King’s commanding full-length pose served as the prototype for other images of him. Other Tudor figures include Thomas Cromwell; Thomas More, Henry VIII’s Chancellor, beheaded in 1535, shown surrounded by his family in a copy after Holbein’s lost portrait; Thomas Cranmer, burnt at the stake in 1556, by Gerlach Flicke (1545–46); and the curious anamorphic portrait of Edward VI, a distorted image which comes into line at one visual point.

Mary I is represented in a portrait by Master John, and Elizabeth I in several portraits: the full-frontal ‘Coronation Portrait’ (actually dateable to c. 1600); the ‘Darnley Portrait’, showing the queen in an intricately embroidered dress with a rich rope of pearls; and the full length ‘Ditchley Portrait’ by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger (pictured opposite), an exceptionally fine image of the deliberately ageless queen c. 1592. It was painted to commemorate her stay at Ditchley, in Oxfordshire, as the guest of Sir Henry Lee. She stands on a globe, her feet on Oxfordshire, with lightning flashes behind her (banished by her radiance) and sunshine before, all typical of the symbolic portraiture so loved by the Elizabethans. Other portraits include Elizabeth’s favourite, the Earl of Leicester; the great circumnavigator Sir Francis Drake; Sir Walter Raleigh; and Shakespeare.

By James I’s reign canvas had become the most common support for painting, allowing for larger pictures. As well as James himself, by Daniel Mytens, are beautiful full-lengths by Robert Peake of Frederick, Prince of Wales, and his sister Princess Elizabeth, in an intricately embroidered gown of gold and silver thread. From Charles I’s reign are images of Charles himself; his queen, Henrietta Maria; and Lord George Stuart, Seigneur d’Aubigny (c. 1638), a young royalist killed at the battle of Edgehill, an excellent late work by van Dyck, who was Charles I’s official painter.

One of the best works from the mid-17th century is Walker’s John Evelyn, a wonderful study of intellectual melancholia. The later 17th-century collection is particularly rich, with several portraits by Sir Peter Lely, Charles II’s official painter following the 1660 Restoration. As well as the king there are several portraits of his mistresses, including Nell Gwyn; members of the ‘Cabal’ government, including Lely’s Arlington; court wits such as the Earl of Rochester and, of course, Samuel Pepys, in a portrait by John Hayls that Pepys mentions in his famous diary.

The later Stuart collection includes the ruthless Judge Jeffreys, by John Michael Wright; a particularly beautiful Lely of Mary II, as Princess of Orange; a very fine full-length of Queen Anne by Michael Dahl; Anne’s close friend, and later enemy, the powerful Duchess of Marlborough, shown with her gold key of office around her waist; and Sir Godfrey Kneller’s small allegorical oil sketch of the Duke of Marlborough, the famous victor of Blenheim, shown on a rearing horse.

 

18th-century Collection (Second Floor; Rooms 9–14)

The 18th-century collection begins with figures from the early Hanoverian art world including artists’ self-portraits (Kneller, Dahl); the great architect of St Paul’s, Sir Christopher Wren; Hogarth (a terracotta bust by Roubiliac); and men of letters such as the satirist and author of Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift. Hung together are Kneller’s important Kit-cat portraits, with their uniform frames, showing the politically Whig-minded members of the convivial drinking and dining club: Congreve and Dryden appear alongside politicians and courtiers. Philip Mercier’s beautiful small-scale work (1733) shows the great art patron Frederick, Prince of Wales and his sisters playing musical instruments in the grounds of Kew Palace.

Later Georgians include the great painter Sir Joshua Reynolds, President of the Royal Academy of Arts founded in 1768. As well as his early self-portrait (c. 1749), he appears with fellow Academicians Sir William Chambers and Joseph Wilton in a triple portrait by François Rigaud. Literary figures include Dr Johnson, author of the Dictionary; and images of actors, including Sarah Siddons, painted full-length as Tragedy by Sir William Beechey, probably inspired by her famous appearance as Lady Macbeth.

There are portraits of George III and Queen Charlotte by Allan Ramsay; the expanding East India Company is the subject of Francis Hayman’s important image Robert Clive, Receiving the Homage of Mir Jaffir after the Battle of Plassey; and dominating an entire wall is John Singleton Copley’s great work The Death of the Earl of Chatham (on long loan from Tate), showing the dramatic collapse of William Pitt in the House of Lords.

 

The Regency (Second Floor; Rooms 17–20)

The recently refurbished Regency Rooms occupy the second floor of the 1931–33 Duveen extension. The peacock blue-green walls, silvered coving and black marble dados and door surrounds have more to do with the date of the architecture than the contents of the rooms. The galleries actually span the period 1789 (the French Revolution) to 1832 (the Great Reform Act) rather than the Regency itself (1811–20). The gallery possesses Sir Thomas Lawrence’s autocratic profile oil sketch of the Prince Regent, as well as the great military and naval heroes of the day, the Duke of Wellington and Lord Nelson. Romantic poets and novelists include Lord Byron (in ‘magnifique’ Albanian costume); Benjamin Robert Haydon’s portrait of the seventy-two year-old Wordsworth; Coleridge, Keats and Sir Walter Scott. Also in the collection is the delicate sketch of Jane Austen by her sister, Cassandra. The principal painting in the largest room (Room 20) is Sir George Hayter’s enormous The Reformed House of Commons (1833), painted to commemorate the passing of the 1832 Great Reform Act, which widened the country’s electorate.

 

Victorian Collection (First Floor; Rooms 21–29)

The Victorian displays occupy Ewan Christian’s original 19th-century building, this part of which was remodelled by CZWG Architects in 1996. Immediately facing you (if you arrive via the 19th-century stairs rather than from the Ondaatje Hall) is a theatrical, pyramidal display on shelving of portrait busts of great Victorian patriarchs. Along the central corridor heading west (Room 22) is a formal procession of portraits of statesmen, interspersed with white marble busts. To either side are smaller galleries (Christian’s side-lit cabinets) with thematic hangs, basically chronological, showing images of the great writers, artists, travellers, inventors and politicians of the Victorian age. The British Empire’s self-confidence and evangelising spirit is summed up well in Sir George Strong Nares’ The Secret of England’s Greatness, showing Queen Victoria presenting a Bible to a kneeling African convert. Large historical portraits include Jenny Barret’s The Mission of Mercy: Florence Nightingale Receiving the Wounded at Scutari (c. 1856–58). As well as these ponderous pieces is James Tissot’s wonderful Frederick Gustavus Burnaby (1870), a cavalry officer and explorer who died of a spear wound on an expedition to Khartoum. He is shown in uniform, relaxing on a sofa, with an elegantly twirled moustache.

Early Victorian writers and artists include Dickens, Thackeray and George Eliot, as well as Branwell Brontë’s famous image of his three sisters Charlotte, Emily and Anne, a naïve work, discovered folded up on top of a cupboard by the second wife of Charlotte Brontë’s husband. John Ballantyne’s 1865 image of Landseer shows the great artist at work modelling the stone lions for the base of Nelson’s column in Trafalgar Square. Several of these pictures are curiously hung on projecting wall brackets, a nod towards Christian’s original intention to have screens, and to minimise the reflection from Christian’s re-exposed windows.

Among the gallery’s many images of inventors and men of science is Robert Howlett’s early 1858 photograph of the great engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, standing before the massive anchor chains of his steamship Leviathan (later the Great Eastern). Shown together are G.F. Watts’ ‘Hall of Fame’ portraits of the great men of his day, which Watts bequeathed to the gallery. His belief in the importance to history of men of intellectual power and vision, close to Carlyle’s theory of the Hero, coincided with the founding mission of the gallery. Included, of course, is Carlyle (who hated his portrait); William Morris; Matthew Arnold; and the influential philosopher John Stuart Mill. The gallery also owns Watts’ famous image of his wife for one year, the great actress Ellen Terry, shown at the age of 17 ‘choosing’ (the title of the work) between the worldly camellia and the innocence of violets. Terry—who was 30 years younger than Watts—left her husband and returned to the worldly stage.

The gallery’s collection includes Millais’ sombre, composed portraits of the two towering political figures, Gladstone and Disraeli, and John Singer Sargent’s powerful and brilliant 1908 portrait of the Earl of Balfour, a pivotal figure in British politics from the 1880s. It was thought by G.K. Chesterton to sum up not only the man but also the vague pessimism of the age. The gallery’s other late Victorian and turn-of-the-century images includes the Italian Boldini’s exuberant Lady Colin Campbell, socialite and journalist, shown in black chiffon with an impossible wasp waist; Napoleon Savory’s photograph of his ‘picturesque subject’, Oscar Wilde, taken in New York in 1882; and portraits of the avant-garde leaders Walter Sickert, Philip Wilson Steer and Augustus John.

 

20th-century Collection (First Floor; Rooms 30–32)

The first floor of the Duveen wing, internally transformed in 1996 by CZWG Architects, houses the 20th-century collection up to 1960. The main gallery has large glass screens allowing the backs of pictures to be seen, at first rather disconcerting. Figures from the period of the First World War include the suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst. Sir James Guthrie’s large painting Some Statesmen of the Great War (1923–24), shows Asquith, Lloyd George and Churchill, among others, seated below the vast winged figure Nike, the Winged Victory of Samothrace (in the Louvre). Graham Sutherland’s oil sketch of Sir Winston Churchill is a reminder of the original, disliked by Churchill and destroyed by his wife. Post-war images include Sir James Gunn’s elegant Conversation Piece at Royal Lodge, Windsor, showing George VI and his family taking tea.

The period 1960–90 is shown in the Balcony Gallery in the Ondaatje wing. Works include a self-portrait by Lucien Freud; images of political leaders (Harold Wilson, James Callaghan and Harold Macmillan); actors including Sir Alec Guinness and Dame Peggy Ashcroft; and authors, including Iris Murdoch, painted by Tom Phillips in 1984–86. The first-floor landing (Room 33) is devoted to portraits of the current royal family. On the Ground Floor is the 1990s and contemporary collection, which includes works specially commissioned by the gallery.

 

 

Eminent Britons

The three men responsible for the foundation of the National Portrait Gallery, the 5th Earl Stanhope (1805–75), Thomas Macaulay (1800–59) and Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881) were all historians and biographers keenly interested in Britain’s past. Stanhope was the author of a seven-volume history of Georgian Britain, Macaulay of a monumental History of England, and Carlyle of the famous On Heroes (1841), in which he argued that ‘the history of the world is but the biography of great men’. All three agreed that a National Portrait Gallery should not only illustrate British history but should celebrate the individuals who had contributed to Brtain’s pre-eminence, a view reflective of mid-19th-century British optimism. The gallery was to be a historical resource where images of the great and good could be venerated and could inspire emulation.

The foundations of the collection were laid by George Scharf (1820–95). An etcher and illustrator keenly interested in history, Scharf’s tireless and mostly single-handed industry saw the collection grow from an original 57 pictures to over 1,000. His profound study of portraiture enabled him to authenticate as genuine or dismiss images, and his meticulous manuscript notebooks of portraits in private collections, with lively sketches and annotations, now in the gallery’s archive, remain a valuable resource. Scharf did not live to see the completion of the present building. Responsibility for the new gallery passed to Sir Lionel Cust (1859–1929), who was one of the main contributors to that magnificent late 19th-century enterprise, the publication of the Dictionary of National Biography. Recently revised (Oxford University Press 2004), the new volumes, 12 years in preparation, provide biographies of 50,000 famous Britons through the ages and are illustrated with 10,000 images from the National Portrait Gallery’s collection, reinforcing the gallery’s position as the leading institution for the study of famous Britons and their iconography.

 

 

Photography (shown throughout the gallery)

Since the 1968 Cecil Beaton exhibition at the gallery, photography has been a growing part of the collection. The collection actually starts much earlier, in the 1840s. It includes over 100 images by the early Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, dating from the 1860s and 70s; famous images such as Frederick Henry Evans’ 1893 image of Aubrey Beardsley, and George Charles Beresford’s 1902 portraits of Virginia Woolf; over 1,000 works by Cecil Beaton; and images by, among others, Norman Parkinson, Bill Brandt, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Helmut Newton. Selections from the collection are shown throughout the displays.

03.04.2015
11:40

National Gallery

Address:

Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN

Phone:

020-7747 2885

Website:

www.nationalgallery.org.uk

Opening times:

Daily 10:00–18:00 (Fri until 21:00)

How to get there:

Tube: Charing Cross/Leicester Square

Entry fee:

Free

Additional information:

Restaurant, café and two shops. On-line shop

The National Gallery’s collection of Western European art, spanning the period c. 1250–1900, is one of the finest in the world. The Italian early and high Renaissance collection is particularly rich, with countless works of international significance; there are important early Netherlandish works; major holdings of 17th-century Dutch and Flemish masters, including Rembrandt, Rubens and van Dyck; notable works by the French masters Claude and Poussin, as well as a significant collection of French Impressionist pictures. Although Tate Britain is the official home of British art, the National Gallery also has some seminal masterpieces of the British School, which hold their own alongside Continental works.

 

History of the Gallery

Compared with other European national galleries, London’s was established relatively late, in 1824. Various earlier moves to found a gallery had come to nothing, but in the 1820s the artist and collector Sir George Beaumont (1753–1827) offered to the nation his collection of pictures, with two provisos: that the government purchase for the nation one of the finest private collections in London, the collection of the wealthy banker John Julius Angerstein; and that suitable accommodation be found for it. In April 1824 Parliament voted to pay £57,000 for Angerstein’s 38 Italian, Dutch, Flemish and British works, the core of the National Gallery’s collection. Sebastiano del Piombo’s magnificent altarpiece, The Raising of Lazarus, was officially the first work to enter the collection (it has the accession number NG1), along with Raphael’s Pope Julius II; Rembrandt’s Woman Taken in Adultery; and some fine Claudes. Angerstein’s collection had fulfilled the government’s desire for ‘large pictures of eminence’, but instead of in a purpose-built gallery, they were displayed in three rooms of Angerstein’s former London home, 100 Pall Mall. In 1826 they were joined there by Beaumont’s own 16 pictures, a much smaller collection but one which contained several masterpieces: Canaletto’s excellent The Stonemason’s Yard; Rubens’ View of Het Steen (Beaumont considered Rubens ‘the Shakespeare of painting’); and, a reflection of the taste of the times, further Claude landscapes including Beaumont’s personal favourite, Landscape with Hagar and the Angel, which travelled with him whenever he left London for his country home. In face of public criticism of the National Gallery’s inadequate accommodation (100 Pall Mall was hardly the Louvre), the government agreed in 1831 to construct a building on the north side of the new Trafalgar Square, on the site of the old Royal Mews.

 

The Building

Built between 1833 and 1838 by William Wilkins, the building is dignified but somehow not imposing, its long façade punctuated with a central portico with Corinthian columns, a dome and further porticoes to east and west with column bases and capitals salvaged from the recently demolished Carlton House.

At first the National Gallery occupied only the west side of the new building, the Royal Academy having the east. But in 1868 the latter removed to Burlington House, allowing expansion for the gallery’s growing collection. In 1845 Robert Vernon had bequeathed his large collection of British works, followed in 1851 by J.M.W. Turner’s overwhelming bequest of over 1,000 of his own watercolours, drawings and oils. Both these collections had to be displayed elsewhere, at Marlborough House and then at the new South Kensington Museum. In 1871 the collection of the late Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel, came to the gallery, a distinguished assembly of mainly Dutch and Flemish pictures, including Hobbema’s supreme Avenue at Middelharnis, and Rubens’ Chapeau de Paille. Since its foundation—and particularly from 1855, with the appointment of Sir Charles Eastlake as Director—the gallery had also been making acquisitions of its own. Eastlake travelled throughout Italy purchasing important works, mainly early Italian ‘Primitives’.

A new east wing extension was added to the back of Wilkins’ building. Designed by E.M. Barry and completed in 1876, the suite of galleries was opulent and rich. Recently restored to their period glory, the central octagonal Rotunda (Room 36) has green Genoa marble columns, a coloured marble floor, walls of burgundy, green and blue, with white and gilded plasterwork and a domed ceiling of etched glass panels. Between 1885 and 1887 Sir John Taylor added further architecturally important spaces: the Central Hall, also recently restored to its Victorian splendour, with richly coloured Venetian wall fabric; and the grand Staircase Hall, an important Victorian space, originally with rich plasterwork, pink stone cladding and polychromatic decoration by J.D. Crace. At the time of writing the latter was closed for restoration, as was Wilkins’ Entrance Hall, allowing for only partial viewing of the four Boris Anrep Mosaic Pavements, commissioned in 1928–33. The foremost mosaicist working in Britain, Anrep’s themes were The Labours of Life (west vestibule, 1928), The Pleasures of Life (east vestibule, 1929) and The Awakening of the Muses (half-landing, 1933). Modern Virtues (north vestibule) followed later, in 1952. Portraits of famous British arts figures are incorporated, such as Augustus John (who appears as Neptune); Margot Fonteyn (Delectation); Edith Sitwell (Sixth Sense); and Bertrand Russell (Lucidity).

With the opening in 1897 of the National Gallery, Millbank, built with funds from the wealthy industrialist Sir Henry Tate for the display of British art (now Tate Britain) further space was released at Trafalgar Square, which was further added to in 1907–11 with new galleries behind Wilkins’ west wing; and the building of the Northern Extension in 1970–75. More recently, in 1991, the Sainsbury Wing was completed to designs by Venturi, Rauch and Scott, who won the commission after the original scheme, the winner of an architectural competition, was famously denounced by the Prince of Wales as a ‘monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much loved friend’. In a modern classical style which acknowledges Wilkins’ building, the new wing’s main feature is a giant, broad and tall staircase which rises from the entrance foyer up to the main gallery level, with views over Trafalgar Square. Below is the gallery’s main temporary exhibition space. The most recent architectural intervention is the new Getty entrance and foyer (Dixon/Jones 2004), which allows entry directly from Trafalgar Square, rather than up the main portico stairs. The sharp white staircase with glossy black wall cladding (a rather undistinguished, corporate look) leads to the main level.

 

Entrance to the National Gallery has always been free. Even during the Second World War, when the collection was removed for safety to old mining caves in Wales, one masterpiece per month was shown at the gallery, at risk in the capital alongside Londoners. During its evacuation, much scholarly study of the collection was undertaken, resulting in published catalogues which set the international standard. The National Gallery is too large to see in full at one visit. Below, ordered by date and school, are the major highlights, many of which are long-established favourites.

The Collection

 

1250–1500 (Sainsbury Wing; Rooms 51–66)

The early Renaissance collection is shown in the Sainsbury Wing, the elaborate architectural frames, rich colours and punched gold leaf of the pictures set off against pale grey walls. In the early years, collecting had concentrated on Italian high Renaissance pictures but by the mid-19th century it was felt that the gallery should aim to be a complete historical collection rather than a collection of select masterpieces. Reflecting the 19th-century taste for the Gothic, Giotto was set as the starting date, and early Italian, German and Netherlandish works were actively sought. The gallery’s first Director, Sir Charles Eastlake, travelled throughout Italy annually and was instrumental in acquiring major early Italian works, then known as ‘Primitives’, including a panel from Uccello’s Battle of San Romano. In 1863 Queen Victoria presented a collection of early Renaissance works.

 

Italy: Among the earliest works are Margarito of Arezzo’s 1260s Byzantine icon-like Virgin and Child (Room 52), the earliest Italian work in the collection, acquired by Eastlake to demonstrate ‘the rude beginnings’ from which Italian art grew; Giotto’s Pentecost (Room 52), one of seven panels from an altarpiece now scattered around the world; and Duccio’s Annunciation and Jesus Opens the Eyes of a Blind Man (Room 52), predella panels from his masterwork, the Maestà, the high altarpiece of Siena Cathedral, completed in 1311. Not Italian, but displayed with these pictures, is the outstanding Wilton Diptych (c. 1395; Room 53), the highpoint of painting to survive from medieval England. Possibly of French authorship, it shows Richard II being presented to the Virgin and Child, accompanied by St John, St Edmund and St Edward the Confessor.

Tuscan art 1400–50 (Room 54) includes Lorenzo Monaco’s brilliantly coloured Coronation of the Virgin (c. 1414); the only documented painting by Masaccio, the 1426 Virgin and Child, part of the altarpiece for the chapel of Santa Maria del Carmine, Pisa; works by Sassetta, one of Siena’s leading artists of the early 15th century; and Fra’ Angelico’s Christ Glorified in the Court of Heaven (before 1435), with its ranks of angels. Early Florentine works include Fra’ Filippo Lippi’s Annunciation, possibly part of bedchamber furniture from the Palazzo Medici, the dove hovering before the Virgin’s womb in a glittering holy sphere; Uccello’s Battle of San Romano (Room 55), also from the Palazzo Medici, showing the mercenary general Niccolò da Tolentino in a magnificent headdress, on a rearing white charger (the other two parts of this painting are in the Uffizi and the Louvre); St George and the Dragon, also by Uccello, the fierce dragon being speared at the entrance to his craggy cave; works by Botticelli (Rooms 57–58) including the Mystic Nativity, one of the gallery’s best-known works, showing the Virgin kneeling in adoration, with a circle of dancing angels above the stable; important pieces by Piero di Cosimo, who was ‘rediscovered’ in the second half of the 19th century; and Alesso Baldovinetti’s popular Portrait of a Lady in Yellow (Room 58), depicted in profile against a blue background, with black palm fronds embroidered on her sleeve.

A separate gallery (Room 59) displays late 15th-century works by Carlo Crivelli, including The Annunciation with St Emidius (1486), an astonishing exhibition of his skill. Later 15th-century works from Siena and Perugia include Giovanni di Paolo’s Scenes from the Life of St John the Baptist, the desert realised as tall, craggy mountains.

From Venice and the Veneto 1450–1500 are important works by Mantegna—who did his most important work for the Gonzaga court at Mantua—including the Agony in the Garden (Room 62), the slumbering apostles in the foreground with rabbits hopping on the road along which Judas conducts the Roman soldiers; Sicilian-born Antonello da Messina’s St Jerome in his Study (c. 1475–76; Room 62), a gentle work showing the saint at his desk surrounded by the paraphernalia of learning, a pet cat sitting by potted plants and his lion hovering in the shadows to the right; and works by the great Giovanni Bellini (Rooms 61–62), including the Madonna of the Meadows, and his famous portrait of Doge Leonardo Loredan, in an expensive gold and silver damask robe, prominent against a blue background.

Ferrarese and Milanese painting 1450–1500 includes works by the Este court artist Cosimo Tura, such as The Virgin and Child Enthroned (c. 1475–76), seated on an architecturally elaborate throne; and works by Pisanello (Room 55), better known as a medallist, whose few known paintings include the Virgin and Child and The Vision of St Eustace, illustrating the saint’s vision of a stag with a crucifix between its antlers, with much attention paid to the hunting dogs and other forest wildlife.

In a separate gallery (Room 66) are outstanding masterpieces by Piero della Francesca, who worked chiefly in his native Borgo Sansepolcro, Tuscany, and was recognised as a rare and extraordinary talent in the second half of the 20th century. The National Gallery has exceptional works by him, including the Baptism of Christ, a work of great delicacy, and The Nativity, an unfinished work allowing insight into his working methods.

 

The Netherlands and Germany: Unlike early Italian works which are painted in egg tempera, with a gradual shift towards oil as time progresses, early Netherlandish and German works are in oil on panel. The technique, in fact, is thought to have been brought from the Netherlands to Italy by Antonello da Messina. Important works in the collection include those by Robert Campin, active in Tournai in the early 15th century, including small devotional images; and penetrating portraits of a man and a woman, c. 1420–30, great observational pieces with sparkling eyes, one of the earliest surviving examples of a pair of portraits.

One of the greatest artists of his day was Jan van Eyck, who worked for Philip, Duke of Burgundy at Bruges. His outstanding work, already famous in the 16th century and today one of the most important of the National Gallery’s pictures, is his remarkable Arnolfini Portrait (Room 56), probably a marriage portrait, the couple standing in a well furnished room, their reflections seen in the round mirror in the background.

The outstanding Netherlandish painter of his time was Rogier van der Weyden, who worked in Brussels and probably for the Burgundian court. His beautiful Magdalen Reading (c. 1440–50; Room 56) has been cut down from a once large altarpiece. Dieric Bouts’ Entombment is one of the most important examples of his religious painting to survive. Exceptional works by Hans Memlinc (or Memling; Room 63) include the Donne Triptych (c. 1475), commissioned by the English patron Sir John Donne when in Bruges, and the peaceful Virgin and Child (c. 1475), possibly the central panel of a private devotional painting. Works by the leading Antwerp painter Quinten Massys (or Metsys) include the Virgin and Child Enthroned.

Early German works, from Cologne and Westphalia, include The Presentation in the Temple by the ‘Master of the Life of the Virgin’, whose name is unknown but who was one of the leading painters of Cologne; and fragments of the high altarpiece from the Benedictine Abbey of Liesborn, including the beautiful Annunciation, by the ‘Master of Liesborn’. Southern German painting includes The Painter’s Father (1497), by one of the greatest European artists of his age, Albrecht Dürer (Room 65).

 

1500–1600 (West Wing; Rooms 2–14)

 

Italy: The National Gallery’s Italian Renaissance collection is extensive and excellent. In the Gallery’s early years it was the trustees’ objective to purchase the best works by the outstanding artists, then identified as Titian, Correggio and Raphael. An astonishing number of masterpieces arrived at the Gallery throughout the 19th century. Central Hall (Room 10), at the heart of the Gallery, displays a selection of works by Titian and his contemporaries, although The Vendramin Family was purchased in 1929, and the late, freshly handled Diana and Actaeon not until 1972. Leonardo da Vinci’s great Virgin of the Rocks (c. 1508), the central panel for the altarpiece of the oratory of the Milanese Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception, and one of the gallery’s most renowned works, is displayed in Room 2, along with his large cartoon, The Virgin and Child with St Anne and St John the Baptist (c. 1499–1500), a large-scale preparatory drawing for a painting commissioned by Louis XII of France. Also in this room is Correggio’s Madonna of the Basket, in excellent condition, and his well known School of Love (c. 1525), purchased in 1824. Early 16th-century painting of Ferrara and Bologna, and the patronage of the Este dukes, is explored in Room 6, with works by Lorenzo Costa (A Concert, c. 1485–95) and Garofalo.

Room 8 contains major works by Florentine and Roman artists: Michaelangelo’s unfinished Entombment; Bronzino’s outstanding Allegory with Venus and Cupid, the ‘picture of singular beauty’ mentioned by Vasari in 1568; Raphael’s large Ansidei Madonna; his beautiful Mond Crucifixion and St Catherine of Alexandria, twisted towards the sky in a position of holy rapture; his important and influential portrait of Pope Julius II, an 1824 Angerstein foundation work; and the small and gentle Madonna of the Pinks, a controversial acquisition (for £22m) in 2004.

Room 9, a large barrel-vaulted room with restored plasterwork and gilding, showpieces the Gallery’s magnificent works by Veronese and Venetian artists, 1530–1600: Veronese’s four beautiful Allegories of Love, ceiling paintings commissioned either by the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II, or for a Venetian setting; his enormous and impressive Family of Darius before Alexander; and The Rape of Europa, which came to the gallery in 1831 and was highly esteemed in the 18th and 19th centuries. Also an 1831 purchase was Tinoretto’s St George and the Dragon, a typically roughly finished work, the dragon being speared on a savage rocky shore. Other important works include Tintoretto’s Origin of the Milky Way (1575–80) and Jacopo Bassano’s Purification of the Temple.

Probably the most famous Titian in the collection is Bacchus and Ariadne, purchased in 1826. It hangs in Room 10, with other important works by him (his early Noli me Tangere (c. 1515); Portrait of a Lady (‘La Schiavone’); and Portrait of a Man, the sitter’s head turned to the viewer, his elaborate silver-blue quilted sleeve filling the picture space). Other early 16th-century Venetian artists include Giorgione, Palma Vecchio and Sebastiano del Piombo, whose Raising of Lazarus, originally part of the Orleans collection but a casualty of revolutionary Europe, was the first work to enter the collection.

Northern Italian works include portraits by Moroni, Moretto da Brescia and Lorenzo Lotto, excellent pieces of realism including Lotto’s Portrait of a Lady inspired by Lucretia (c. 1530–32), and Giovanni Agostino della Torre and his son, Niccolo (1515), showing the 61 year-old doctor holding a work by the Greek physician Galen.

 

The Netherlands: The fine collection of 16th-century Netherlandish pictures can be seen in Rooms 5 and 14 including, in the latter, works by Jan Gossaert: Adam and Eve, with the serpent coiled in the branch of a tree at the top of the picture, nudging its head between the standing couple; his small-scale Little Girl, in an elaborately embroidered and jewelled dress, holding an armillary sphere; and his meticulous, tightly handled Adoration of the Kings (c. 1500–15), with angels hovering above the Virgin and Child, the kings bearing their costly gifts and dogs wandering across minutely observed cracked paving invaded by weeds. Room 5 has larger scale works. Important religious altarpieces by the distinguished Bruges painter Gerard David include Canon Bernardijn Salviati and Three Saints (c. 1501), the left hand shutter of a diptych, the goldsmith’s work of the croziers meticulously painted, with a beautiful landscape background; and The Virgin and Child with Saints and Donor, from the altar of St Catherine in the chapel of St Anthony in St Donatian’s, Bruges, a work of sophisticated splendour, painted in David’s rich, bright colours. Scenes from the Passion by the ‘Master of Delft’ is painted with an incredible minute clarity. Works by Quinten Massys, the leading Antwerp painter from 1491, include The Virgin and Child Enthroned, an early work; A Grotesque Old Woman, her wrinkled skin contrasting with her fine, revealing clothes; and The Virgin and Child with Saints, a rare survival of a cloth painting.

 

Germany: The collection of 16th-century Northern painting from the Protestant states of what are now Germany and Switzerland includes works by Cranach, Hans von Aachen and others, but is of particular note for its works by Holbein. The Ambassadors (Room 4), one of the National Gallery’s major masterpieces, dominates one wall. Painted in 1533 for Jean de Dinteville, French Ambassador at the court of Henry VIII, it shows Dinteville standing with Georges de Selve surrounded by objects symbolic of Humanist learning. The perspective of the distorted skull, bottom centre, is corrected when viewed from the right. The charming Lady with a Squirrel and a Starling (1526–28) has recently been identified as Anne Lovell, the animal and bird being a heraldic play on the Lovell arms and the family home at East Harling, Norfolk. Christina of Denmark (1538), depicting a prospective bride of Henry VIII, is a rare, early example of full-length portraiture.

 

1600–1700 (North Wing; Rooms 15–32)

 

Dutch Pictures: The large collection of 17th-century Dutch and Flemish works is largely the result of two major bequests, that of the late Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel in 1871, and the Wynn Ellis bequest of 1876. Vermeer and the painters of Delft and Leiden are hung in Rooms 16 and 17. Of the only 30 works known by Vermeer, the National Gallery has two, including the outstanding Young Woman Standing at a Virginal (c. 1670). Nearby is Pieter de Hooch’s Courtyard of a House in Delft (1658), with its carefully observed brickwork. Numerous works by Gerrit Dou, the principal artist of the Leiden fijnschilders (literally ‘fine painters’), are on show, including his Poulterer’s Shop (c. 1670), seen through a stone window, its produce of gamebirds and a hanging hare shown in a virtuoso performance of meticulous detail. Also on show is Hoogstraten’s Peepshow (c. 1655–60), a painted box with two viewing holes, through which the illusion of a three dimensional Dutch interior can be seen. From a black and white tiled floor a dog stares up at you, and through a doorway further rooms recede into the distance. On the other side a sleeping figure can be glimpsed in bed. Of such boxes to survive, this is the finest and most elaborate.

In Room 17a are Dutch flower and cabinet pieces: minutely observed and smoothly finished tulips by Bosschaert and van der Ast, and small landscapes by Roelandt Savery, including Orpheus (1628), playing his violin to an enraptured audience of flora and fauna. In Room 21 are works by Cuyp and the Dutch Italianate landscapists, most importantly Jan Both, who was in Rome in 1635–41, and the Haarlem artist Nicholas Berchem. Cuyp’s brilliant River Landscape with a Horseman and Peasants (c. 1658–60), suffused with a beautiful golden light, was bought by the Earl of Bute in the 1760s and is supposedly the picture that stimulated the admiration of Cuyp, and his landscapes populated by cows, among British collectors. Further panoramic and low-horizoned landscapes and marine pictures hang in Room 22: works by Jacob van Ruisdael, the most famous landscapist of his day, including A Road Winding between Trees (c. 1645–50), an important early work; Vessels in a Fresh Breeze (1660–65), the muddy water slapping against the jetty; and Landscape with a Ruined Castle and a Church (c. 1665–70), a famous work with light playing on the fields below scudding clouds. Hobbema’s Avenue at Middelharnis (1689), with its central avenues of trees receding into the distance, was formerly owned by Robert Peel and is one of the gallery’s best-loved works.

Room 23 is entirely devoted to Rembrandt. The National Gallery has a large collection of his works, both portraits and large scale biblical pictures, many of which were bequeathed or purchased in the 19th century. The Woman Taken in Adultery (1644), was one of Angerstein’s 1824 foundation works; the Lamentation over the Dead Christ was Beaumont’s; and the famous A Woman Bathing in a Stream (1654), probably Hendrickje Stoffels, who lived in Rembrandt’s household, came to the gallery in 1831. The important Belshazzar’s Feast (c. 1635), is an early attempt by Rembrandt to establish himself as a large scale history painter. He shows the moment when, having served wine in sacred vessels looted from the Temple in Jerusalem, Belshazzar observes the appearance of Hebrew script on a wall predicting the fall of his kingdom. Other key works include Saskia van Uylenburgh in Arcadian Costume (1635), Rembrandt’s wife shown a year after they married; Margaretha de Geer, wife of the wealthy merchant Jacob Trip; and Self Portrait at the age of 63, one of the last pictures Rembrandt painted.

The Dutch Caravaggists and the painters of Haarlem are shown in Room 25, including Hendrick ter Brugghen’s The Concert (c. 1626). Scenes of everyday life are in Rooms 26–27: interiors by Jan Steen and Gerard ter Borch, full of symbolism and moral comment; Thomas de Keyser’s excellent portrait of the ambassador and advisor to the Prince of Orange, Constantijn Huygens, surrounded by objects pointing to his intellectual and artistic interests; and townscapes redolent of the prosperity of the Dutch Golden Age.

 

Flemish Pictures: Early 17th-century cabinet-sized Flemish works are shown in Room 28: works by Jan Brueghel the Elder, including the meticulously detailed Adoration of the Kings; church interiors by Hendrick van Steenwyck and Brueghel; and tavern and brothel scenes by David Teniers (the most famous painter of such works) and Adriaen Brouwer. The large and impressive collection of works by the great Baroque artist Rubens is in Room 29. Many arrived at the gallery in the 19th century, including the Rape of the Sabine Women (1635–40), acquired in 1824; A View of Het Steen in the Early Morning, showing Rubens’ country estate purchased in 1635 (part of the Beaumont bequest); and the important Peace and War, painted when Rubens was in England on a diplomatic mission to negotiate peace with Spain (presented by the Duke of Sutherland in 1828). Other works produced for English patrons include the portrait of the celebrated art connoisseur Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel; an oil sketch for the allegorical ceiling painted for the Duke of Buckingham, destroyed in 1949; and, on long term loan, the Apotheosis of James I, a sketch for his famous Banqueting House ceiling. One of the most famous pictures in the National Gallery is Le Chapeau de Paille, part of the Peel collection purchased in 1871, the name of the picture dating back to the 18th century. Other important works include the early Samson and Delilah (c. 1609–10); and The Watering Place, a landscape which inspired Constable’s work of the same name.

Works by Rubens’ most famous pupil, van Dyck, are in Room 31. The collection is particularly rich in English period works, van Dyck being the most celebrated and influential artist working in Britain in the 17th century. The most important is the enormous Equestrian Portrait of Charles I (c. 1637–38), painted for the King whose official painter van Dyck was, and who knighted him for his services. George Gage with Two Attendants (1622–23), came with the Angerstein collection, but many of the more important works are relatively recent purchases: Lords John and Bernard Stuart (c. 1638), posed with a wonderful degree of confidence and flair, one of his English masterpieces, was purchased in 1988; and the excellent full-length Abbé Scaglia in 1999.

 

Italian Pictures: Room 32 contains great Italian works of the 17th century: Caravaggio’s early Supper at Emmaus (1601), and his late Salome Receives the Head of St John the Baptist, with theatrical, dramatic lighting and intense passion. In contrast is Annibale Carracci’s quieter, more mannerist work, such as The Dead Christ Mourned (‘The Three Maries’; c. 1604), one of his most powerful and emotionally charged works. The large collection of Guido Reni includes his elaborate Coronation of the Virgin (1607), and his well known Rape of Europa (before 1640), painted for King Wladislaw of Poland. Guercino, the great Bolognese Baroque artist, is well represented: the still and dignified Cumaean Sibyl with a Putto (1651), one of his finest works, is one of an important group on loan from the collection of the distinguished Italian Baroque scholar Sir Denis Mahon. Orazio Gentileschi’s large and imposing Finding of Moses is an important work executed in England in the 1630s when the artist was in the service of Charles I and his queen, Henrietta Maria.

 

French Pictures: Rooms 19 and 20 are dedicated to the two great French landscape artists Poussin and Claude. Both the foundation Angerstein and Beaumont collections contained Claude, reflecting the high esteem in which British collectors held his work. Landscape with Hagar and the Angel was Beaumont’s favourite picture. The gallery’s collection of his hugely influential, poetic classical landscapes, peopled by figures from classical mythology and the Bible, includes Seaport with the Embarkation of St Ursula, the view to the open sea bathed in a golden light; The Enchanted Castle (1664), which influenced Keats’s ‘Ode to a Nightingale’; and Landscape with Aeneas at Delos (1672). When J.M.W. Turner bequeathed his pictures to the nation he stipulated that two of them, Dido Building Carthage and Sun Rising through Vapour, were to be shown alongside two of Angerstein’s Claudes, Seaport with the Embarkation of the Queen of Sheba and Landscape with the Marriage of Isaac and Rebekah. They hang together in Room 15, the modern genius alongside the influential predecessor.

Excellent landscapes by Poussin include A Bacchanalian Revel before a Term, (1632–33); The Triumph of Pan (1636), commissioned by Cardinal Richelieu; Landscape with Travellers Resting (c. 1638–39), probably executed for his major Roman patron Cassiano del Pozzo; the brilliant Adoration of the Golden Calf (1633–34), made for Amadeo del Pozzo, Cassiano’s cousin; and the late, grand Finding of Moses (1651), purchased jointly with the National Museum of Wales in 1988 and shown alternately in London and Cardiff. Other French works are shown in Room 18, including Philippe de Champaigne’s full-length regal image of Cardinal Richelieu, one of several full-length variants; Mignard’s extraordinary Marquise de Seignelay and two of her Sons (1691), where the sitter is shown as the sea goddess Thetis, surrounded by exotic shells, with coral and pearls in her hair, an allusion to her husband’s post as head of the Admiralty.

 

Spanish Pictures: Religious works created in the service of the Counter Reformation, and other 17th-century Spanish pictures, are displayed in Room 30: the highly individual works of El Greco, including Christ Driving the Traders from the Temple (c. 1600); important works by Velázquez, expressing the dignity of the court of Philip IV, including the majestic 1630s full-length of the king, in a splendid costume with sparkling silver embroidery; and the exceptional Toilet of Venus (‘The Rokeby Venus’; c. 1647–51), the only surviving female nude by the artist, famously slashed by a suffragette in 1914. Zurburán’s St Francis in Meditation shows the kneeling saint with uncompromising realism, in a stark interior, his face partially hidden by the dramatic shadow cast by his hood. Murillo’s more gentle works, with their soft style and colouring (known as estilo vaporoso), include his Self Portrait, Peasant Boy Leaning on a Sill, and the sweet and gentle The Two Trinities (1681–82).

 

1700–1900 (East Wing; Rooms 33–46)

 

Italy: Rooms 38 and 39 show the relatively small collection of 18th-century Spanish and Italian works, including Goya’s Doña Isabel de Porcel (before 1805) and Canaletto’s excellent Stonemason’s Yard (Room 38), the latter from Beaumont’s collection. It was not until the late 19th century, however, that the foundations of a representative collection of 18th-century works were laid, with the acquisition of works by the great late Baroque artist Tiepolo and the ‘Venetian Hogarth’, Pietro Longhi, including the latter’s Exhibition of a Rhinoceros in Venice. Further Canalettos include excellent views of the Grand Canal, Venice, and The Rotunda at Ranelagh and Eton College, two English works. The gallery now has a large collection of works by both Giovanni Battista Tiepolo and his son Giandomenico, as well as works by Sebastiano Ricci.

 

British School: Although Tate Britain is the official home of British art, the National Gallery holds some supreme masterpieces of the British School. In the Rotunda (Room 36) are important full-length works including Sir Thomas Lawrence’s Queen Charlotte (1789–90), shown seated at Windsor Castle, in expensive pearls, with a view of Eton College chapel through the window; and Sargent’s excellent Lord Ribblesdale (1902), a former trustee of the National Gallery. Rooms 34 and 35 display the bulk of the British pictures: Hogarth’s important Marriage à la Mode series (Room 35), a moralising commentary on contemporary life, part of Angerstein’s collection; Gainsborough’s early Mr and Mrs Andrews, a genteel couple outdoors in their park; his full-length Mr and Mrs William Hallett (‘The Morning Walk’), a fashionable couple out strolling; Constable’s well-known Hay-Wain (Room 34), the quintessential image of the English countryside, as well as The Cornfield (1826), and The Cenotaph to Reynolds’ Memory, Coleorton. The latter had been erected in the grounds at Coleorton, Sir George Beaumont’s country home, in 1812. Stubbs’ monumental Whistlejacket, a great rearing, riderless horse against a stark background, is a relatively recent acquisition. Other pictures include Joseph Wright of Derby’s famous An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump (1768); Turner’s celebrated The Fighting ‘Temeraire’, tugged to her Last Berth to be broken up (1839) in Room 34; and his Rain, Steam and Speed—The Great Western Railway (before 1844).

 

France: The French 18th-century collection (Room 33) is small but includes some good pictures, notably Drouais’ portrait of Mme de Pompadour, shown seated, with her pet dog, in domestic but expensive surroundings, wearing an exquisitely embroidered dress (1763–64); and Elisabeth Vigée le Brun’s charming Self Portrait in a Straw Hat (after 1782), where she shows herself holding a palette and brushes.

French 19th-century Academy painting (Room 41) includes Paul Delaroche’s romanticised Execution of Lady Jane Grey; works by Géricault and Delacroix; and Ingres’ Mme Moitessier (1844–56), the wife of a wealthy banker, shown seated in her finery. The picture, with its extraordinary porcelain finish, took Ingres 12 years to complete.

No purchases of contemporary French works were made in the 19th century; it was not until the Sir Hugh Lane Bequest of 1917 that works by the great 19th-century French Impressionists were acquired. The gallery now has an excellent collection (Rooms 43–46) which includes several outstanding masterpieces: Manet’s Music in the Tuileries Gardens, and his Execution of Maximilian (1867–68), the latter the second version he painted of the execution by firing squad of Archduke Maximilian, younger brother of the Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria, who had been installed as Emperor of Mexico by Napoleon III but was captured and executed by Mexican forces after the withdrawal of French troops. The mutilated fragments of the picture were rescued and pieced together by Degas. Monet’s work (Room 43) includes Gare St-Lazare, (1877); The Water-Lily Pond (1879); The Beach at Trouville (1870) and The Thames below Westminster (1871). Seurat’s Bathers at Asnières, partly executed in his ‘pointillism’ technique, was acquired in 1924 through a fund established by Samuel Courtauld. Works by Pissarro include Boulevard Montmartre at Night (1897). Renoir’s supreme Les Parapluies is a Hugh Lane Bequest work, and his Boating on the Seine was formerly owned by Courtauld. Henri Rousseau’s Tiger in a Tropical Storm (‘Surprised!’; 1891), is the first of his over 20 jungle pictures.

The final decades of the 19th century are represented with works by Cézanne (Room 45): his Self-Portrait (c. 1880), Hillside in Provence (c. 1886–90), and his well known Bathers, ‘Les Grandes Baigneuses’, one of three large works of the same theme. Of van Gogh’s work (also Room 45) the gallery has one of his Sunflowers (1888), as well as Van Gogh’s Chair, painted at Arles in November 1888 when he was working in the company of Gauguin, and A Wheatfield with Cypresses, painted in September 1889 at the mental asylum at St-Rémy.

MUSEUMS & GALLERIES OF LONDON

Details below are taken from our Blue Guide Museums and Galleries of London.  This is a 2005 title, here generally updated for website address and opening times, with useful comments from some of the museums themselves.  More recent information is given in Emily Barber's magisterial new Blue Guide London, "Exceptional update to a classic and useful guide to this amazing city" (Amazon reader review).

FULL LISTING of CURRENT EXHIBITIONS in London from Apollo Magazine »

Emily Barber recommends five major London museums »

Please do share your comments and updates with us via the form below the entry for each museum.

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National Maritime Museum
Wimbledon Windmill Museum
Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum
2 Willow Road (National Trust)
William Morris Gallery
Whitechapel Gallery
Westminster Abbey Museum
Wesley's Chapel
Wellington Arch (English Heritage)
Wallace Collection
Victoria & Albert Museum
Tower Bridge Exhibition
Tower of London (Historic Royal Palaces)
Tate Modern
Tate Britain
Sutton House (National Trust)
Spencer House
Southside House
South London Art Gallery
The Courtauld Institute of Art (Somerset House)
Sir John Soane's Museum
Shakespeare’s Globe
Serpentine Gallery
Science Museum
St Bride’s Crypt Museum
St Bartholomew’s Hospital Museum
Saatchi Gallery
Royal Society of Arts
The Royal Mews
Royal London Hospital Museum
The Faraday Museum
Royal Hospital Chelsea
RCM Museum of Music
Royal Academy of Music Museum
Royal Academy of Arts
Red House (National Trust)
Ranger’s House (English Heritage)
Ragged School Museum
The Queen’s Gallery
Prince Henry’s Room
The Photographers’ Gallery
Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology
Osterley Park (National Trust)
Orleans House Gallery
Old Operating Theatre, Museum and Herb Garret
Natural History Museum
National Portrait Gallery
National Gallery
National Army Museum
Musical Museum
World Rugby Museum
Museum of the Order of St John
Museum No. 1 (Royal Botanic Gardens)
Museum of London
Garden Museum
Museum in Docklands (Museum of London)
The Royal Observatory
The Queen's House
Old Royal Naval College
Marianne North Gallery (Royal Botanic Gardens)
Marble Hill House (English Heritage)
Mall Galleries
Lord’s Tour and MCC Museum
London Transport Museum
London Fire Brigade Museum
London Canal Museum
18 Stafford Terrace – The Sambourne Family Home
Library and Museum of Freemasonry
Leighton House
Kingston Museum
Kew Palace (Historic Royal Palaces)
London Museum of Water & Steam
Kenwood House (English Heritage)
Kensington Palace (Historic Royal Palaces)
Keats House
Jewish Museum
Jewel Tower (English Heritage)
Jerwood Space
Imperial War Museum
ICA Institute of Contemporary Arts
Hunterian Museum
Horniman Museum
HMS Belfast (Imperial War Museum)
Hayward Gallery
Handel House Museum
Hampton Court Palace (Historic Royal Palaces)
Ham House (National Trust)
Guildhall Art Gallery
Guards Museum
Grant Museum of Zoology & Comparative Anatomy
Geffrye Museum of the Home
Fulham Palace
Freud Museum
Foundling Museum
Forty Hall & Estate
Florence Nightingale Museum
Firepower: The Royal Artillery Museum
Fenton House (National Trust)
Fashion and Textile Museum
Fan Museum
Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art
Eltham Palace (English Heritage)
Dulwich Picture Gallery
Dr Johnson’s House
Dennis Severs' House
Danson House
Cutty Sark
Contemporary Applied Arts
Chiswick House (English Heritage)
Chelsea Physic Garden
Chartered Insurance Institute Museum
Charles Dickens Museum
Carlyle’s House (National Trust)
Camden Arts Centre
Cabinet War Rooms & Churchill Museum (Imperial War Museum)
Burgh House - The Hampstead Museum
Buckingham Palace
Brunel Engine House
Brunei Gallery SOAS
British Optical Association Museum
The British Museum
The British Library
Bramah Museum of Tea and Coffee
Black Cultural Archives
Museum of Childhood (Victoria & Albert Museum)
Bethlem Museum of the Mind
Benjamin Franklin House
Ben Uri Gallery - The London Jewish Museum of Art
Barbican Art Gallery
Banqueting House (Historic Royal Palaces)
Bankside Gallery
Bank of England Museum
All Hallows Undercroft Museum
Alexander Fleming Laboratory Museum

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