The collection is housed in what used to be the family home of the Hertford family. The collection was formed over several generations of that family and on the death of the last owner´s widow, Lady Wallace, in 1890, the house and entire collection was bequeathed to the nation. The terms of the bequest state that the collection must remain entire. That means that nothing can be added or removed. Everything you see is as it was when Lady Wallace died.
It is an astonishing collection. The whole building - and it´s not small! - is filled with art objects. It´s difficult to believe that anyone actually had room to live there. The collection comprises not only paintings, but also sculpture, furniture, clocks, porcelain, armour and weapons. Everyone has their own preferences and favourites, of course. Mine include the wonderful 18th century French paintings, especially by Boucher and Fragonard, the Sevres porcelain (I just love those colours) , the highly ornate 18th century furniture, the many romantic, Arcadian scenes and the portraits by Reynolds, Gainsborough and Lawrence, including the wonderful, Margaret, Countess of Blessington. One of the most famous paintings in the collection is The Laughing Cavalier.
This brief list only scratches the surface. There´s an awful lot more to see. But in addition to the works of art, the house is worth visiting in itself. It´s such a wonderful setting for an art collection. The house is built round a central courtyard which is used as a lunch and snack restaurant. It´s a great place to stop for a coffee, a glass of wine, or a full meal. The courtyard has a glass roof, so rain is not a problem.
The Wallace Collection is open everyday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.almost every day of the year and entry is free. The website has further details: