In London you are spoilt for choice for museums and art galleries, so I’ve picked out some of my favourite must sees. It’s good to seek out a well placed hotel like The Montcalm London Marble Arch so that you are well located for all your museum visits.
A trip to London would not be complete without a visit to the National Gallery. It’s an outstanding museum with a huge selection of wonderful art that features just about all the great names of art and you can trace the development of European art picture by picture. There are so many highlights to pick out, it’s almost impossible. For me though the stand out pictures include the many Titians, especially the vibrantly coloured Bacchus and Ariadne and the more subdued, but moving Diana and Actaeon. For earlier art enthusiasts there’s the jewel like Wilton Diptych which is a masterpiece of its age. Later favourites include Stubbs’ sublime Whistlejacket, which forcefully brings the great horse to life and an iconic Sunflowers painting by Van Gogh. As the gallery is free to visit, you can easily pop in for half an hour to see your favourites or look for inspiration.
Whilst you are in the area, it’s worth popping around the corner to the National Portrait Gallery. The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. It’s spans the ages with images of medieval royalty, through the Tudor dynasty, right up until the present day. Again this museum is free to visit so you can just go for a quick visit if you have a small amount time available.
A fabulous smaller art collection to visit is the Wallace Collection. Despite its smaller size it still packs a punch in terms of the range of its exhibits and the quality. The Wallace Collection displays the works of art collected in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by the first four Marquesses of Hertford and Sir Richard Wallace, the son of the 4th Marquess. It was bequeathed to the British nation by Sir Richard’s widow, Lady Wallace, in 1897. As all the pieces come from one private collection there is a coherence about it and a more domestic scale than a larger gallery. The highlight for me is Franz Hals’ sumptuous Laughing Cavalier, but there’s also a charming portrait by Rembrandt of his son and a number of Murillos.
Another must see on the museums list is the British Museum. There is so much to see here and you could easily spend the whole day here as the collection is vast. I find the Rosetta Stone fascinating and the marbles from the Parthenon in Athenes are unmissable. There’s also an Easter Island statue and more from ancient civilisations like the Assryian Lion Hunt reliefs and Tang Dynasty figures. It’s not all from far flung parts of the world and one of my personal highlights are the Isle of Lewis chessmen, which is probably the most famous chess set in the world. I also love the Portland Vase which proved to be be Wedgewood’s inspiration.