Wallace Collection – Virtual Tour
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.
Virtual Tour of the Wallace Collection
- “The Laughing Cavalier” by Frans Hals
- “A Dance to the Music of Time” by Nicolas Poussin
- “Perseus and Andromeda” by Titian
- The Happy Accidents of the Swing by Jean-Honoré Fragonard
- “The Lady with a Fan” by Diego Velázquez
- “The Rising of the Sun” by François Boucher
- “The Setting of the Sun” by François Boucher
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 Tour of the Wallace Collection
“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 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 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 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.
“The Lady with a Fan” by Diego Velázquez depicts a woman wearing a black lace veil on her head and a dark dress with a low-cut bodice.
It is an enigmatic portrait as there is no documentary information about the portrait; the sitter’s identity has not yet conclusively been verified.
Most other Velázquez portraits are recognizable likenesses of the members of the Spanish royal family, their courtiers, and court servants.
The details of the costume suggest that the sitter could be Marie de Rohan, the Duchess of Chevreuse, as she is dressed according to the French fashion of the period.
There is documented evidence that Velázquez painted a Frenchwoman, in a letter dated 1638. Velázquez claims to have portrayed the exiled Duchess of Chevreuse, who was then living in Madrid under the protection of the King.
The letter claims that the Duchess had escaped from France disguised as a man. However, other experts argued at the features of the sitter differ remarkably from other images of the Duchess.
“The Rising of the Sun” by François Boucher depicts the god Apollo ascending into the sky, as he hastens away the nocturnal darkness with the outstretching of his arms.
This extravagant painting shows Apollo as the god of the Sun, leaving the nymph Tethys with her Nereids and Tritons in the ocean as he drives up the morning sun.
According to Ovid, the sun god Apollo drove his sun chariot drawn by four white horses across the heavens during the day, bringing light to the world.
At nightfall, he would return with his chariot to Tethys and sink back beneath the waves in the evening.
The turquoise and azure blues announce the coming of the day. The light of the morning is brought into contrast by the shadows at the periphery of the canvas.
The foreground is populated by the nude bodies of nymphs and naiads. They overlap with one another to create a series of curves that are echoed in the forms of the waves.
“The Setting of the Sun” by François Boucher is a pair with “The Rising of the Sun.” and depicts the god Apollo returning to the arms of the nymph Tethys, bringing dusk along with him.
According to Ovid, the sun god Apollo drove his sun chariot, drawn by four white horses, across the sky during the day, bringing light to the earth. At nightfall, he would return with his chariot to Tethys and sink back beneath the waves in the evening.
In Greek mythology, Tethys was the daughter of Uranus (Sky) and Gaia (Earth), she was the mother of the river gods and the Oceanids.
The two works were intended as a model for the production of a set of tapestries. Madame de Pompadour commissioned the works for the production of tapestries.
The tapestries were produced from the paintings and completed in 1754-1755 then hung in the King XV’s bedroom at château de Bellevue.
Louis XIV was the first of the French Kings to encourage the title of “Sun King” because he employed the theme of the chariot of Apollo at Versailles to suggest that he was the new Apollo.
- 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
- The British Museum
- The National Gallery, London
- Tate Britain
- The Wallace Collection
- The Victoria and Albert Museum
- Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace
- Courtauld Gallery
- Tate Modern, London
- Science Museum, London
- National Portrait Gallery, London
- Natural History Museum
- Charles Dickens Museum
- Hampton Court Palace
- Sherlock Holmes Museum
- British Library
- Imperial War Museum
Map for the Wallace Collection
An introduction to the Wallace Collection
The Wallace Collection
Canaletto and the Vedute Room at the Wallace Collection
A Tour of the Wallace Collection
“I would venture to warn against too great intimacy with artists as it is very seductive and a little dangerous.”
– Queen Victoria
Photo Credit: Anthony O’Neil [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons