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Wallace Collection

Wallace Collection

Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection is an art collection housed at Hertford House in Manchester Square, the former townhouse of the Seymour family, Marquesses of Hertford. Its collection comprises an extraordinary range of fine and decorative arts from the 15th to the 19th centuries with a significant collection of French 18th-century paintings, furniture, porcelain, and Old Master paintings.

A Tour of the Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection consists of nearly 5,500 objects and is reputed for its quality of eighteenth-century French paintings, Sèvres porcelain, and French furniture.

The Wallace Collection also displays paintings by Titian, Rembrandt, Rubens, Van Dyck, Canaletto,  Boucher, de Hooch, Teniers, Frans Hal, Murillo, Velázquez, Domenichino, Cima, Daddi, Reni, Rosa, Thomas Gainsborough, Joshua Reynolds, Antoine Watteau, Nicholas Lancret, Jan Steen, Aelbert Cuyp and Guardi.

Highlights of the Wallace Collection

  • “The Laughing Cavalier” by Frans Hals
    • “The Laughing Cavalier” by Frans Hals is famous for the lively and spontaneous style of portraiture created by the Dutch Golden Age Master. The subject is not laughing but has an enigmatic smile, amplified by his upturned mustache. The painting conveys a sense of jesting and swagger that is the effect of the low viewpoint together with the sitter’s upturned mustache, sparkling eyes, pointy beard, shiny nose, pink cheeks, large black hat, and confident pose. The portrait is richly colored with an extravagant costume of a doublet embroidered with fanciful motifs in white, gold, and red thread and with a gilded rapier pommel at the crook of his elbow.
  •  “A Dance to the Music of Time” by Nicolas Poussin
    • “A Dance to the Music of Time” by Nicolas Poussin is a painting whose exact meaning is not known. One interpretation is that the picture represents the passing of time and the different stages of life. Its iconography depicts the revolving wheel of fortune: poverty, labor, wealth, and pleasure. Poussin’s paintings are based on a historical iconographic that was understood by his patrons of the 1600s. Poverty is the male figure at the very back of the circle. He dances with his back turned towards the viewer, barefoot and of low status, looking towards Labor. Labor, represented as a healthy young woman, dancing barefoot whose bare shoulders and hair cover represent hard work, she is eagerly trying to grasp Wealth’s hand. Wealth is a young woman with paler skin who dances with golden sandals and robe; she is reluctantly reaching out to Labor’s hand. Pleasure is the young woman in blue who gazes at the viewer with a smirk and a flushing face.
  • “Perseus and Andromeda” by Titian
    • “Perseus and Andromeda” by Titian dramatically depict the Greek mythological story of Andromeda. Perseus is portrayed as attacking the sea monster, who turns to attack the hero, while Andromeda’s white body is contrasted against the dark undercliff and portrayed as pure innocence. In Greek mythology, Andromeda was the daughter of the Ethiopian King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopeia. Queen Cassiopeia was beautiful, but the vain, and her hubris led her to boast that Andromeda is more beautiful than the sea nymphs. The sea nymphs were the daughters of Poseidon, the god of the sea, and when the nymphs heard of her claims, they protested to their father. In retaliated Poseidon calling up a sea monster to wreak havoc on Ethiopia, placing the kingdom at risk. In response, the Queen, together with the King, decided to sacrifice her daughter, Princess Andromeda, to the monster.
  • The Happy Accidents of the Swing by Jean-Honoré Fragonard
    • “The Happy Accidents of the Swing” by Jean-Honoré Fragonard depicts an elegant young woman on a swing with two men on either side of the swing. An enthusiastic young man is hiding in the bushes watching her from a vantage point that allows him to see up into her billowing dress. He is clearing the flower bush with his hat for a better view. As the young lady swings higher, she throws her left leg up, allowing her shoe to fly through the air. An older man in the shadows on the right is propelling and guiding the swing with a pair of ropes. The older man appears to be unaware of the younger man. Fragonard has added two statues in the form of putti, depicted as a chubby male child, to the composition to elaborate the narrative. The putto above the young man on the left has its finger in front of its lips in a sign of silence or secrecy. The pair of putti, who watch from beside the older man on the right, represents a couple. To further demonstrate the young woman’s intentions, the small dog at the older man’s feet is shown barking.

Wallace Collection

  • Name:                   Wallace Collection
  • City:                       London
  • Country:                United Kingdom
  • Established:          1897
  • Type:                     Fine and Decorative Arts Museum
  • Collection Size:     5,500
  • Locations:             Hertford House, Manchester Square, Marylebone, London

Explore London Museums

Map for the Wallace Collection

Canaletto and the Vedute Room at the Wallace Collection

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“I would venture to warn against too great intimacy with artists as it is very seductive and a little dangerous.”
– Queen Victoria

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Photo Credit: Anthony O’Neil [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons