Most Art lovers visiting London, England head for the National or Tate Galleries, two of the best known of hundreds of art galleries both public and private, for which the capital is known.
But perhaps you have already done them or want to see some smaller less crowded galleries or a
particular era of painters and style. Here are some you may not have discovered.
Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Road, Southwark
The first purpose built public art gallery in the world, Dulwich Picture Gallery was founded in 1811 by a prominent member of the Royal Academy to house his collection of old masters. It is not a free museum, but with its exceptional collection of old masters and frequent special exhibitions, lectures, tours and walks, and an excellent reasonably-priced restaurant, set in the quiet Georgian ambiance of leafy Dulwich in south London, it is a favourite with Londoners. An undiscovered gem for tourists, a place to spend a pleasant day, far from the hustle and bustle of central London.
Easily reached by National Rail from Victoria with trains every 15 minutes or by tube and bus,
Dulwich has long been a haven of the cultured and well-to-do but where once it was a secluded village, now it is a quiet unspoilt suburb of south London. Many of the original Georgian homes are still occupied, and Charles Dickens is said to have based Dr. Boswell's house in Pickwick Papers on a elegant, white Georgian mansion in Dulwich.
Known for its literary and artistic connections, while the picture gallery is a busy hub for the local community, the village centre has some unique boutiques, interesting Georgian architecture and trendy restaurants, and nearby Dulwich Park is renowned for its rhododendrons. Allow some time for browsing in one of my favourite places.
Saatchi Gallery, Kings Road, Chelsea
Visiting the Saatchi Gallery will take you into one of London's hottest and trendiest areas as you walk along Kings Road, Chelsea, heart of London's fashion scene from Sloane Square tube or Victoria station. Known for its popular special exhibitions, the mostly free gallery was founded by the Saatchi Brothers, advertising gurus, as a forum for contemporary art. It particularly offers a place for new previously unknown artists to showcase their work, and it has become one of the most visited private galleries in the capital.
If there on a Saturday between 10am - 4pm, you can mix with the toffs and also take in the wonderful Partridges outdoor food market in nearby Duke of York Square. An offshoot of the Upmarket Partridges food store it showcases artisanal food, wine and delicacies from around Britain and Europe at 70 stalls. At the pie stall, you can choose from an amazing array of tasty pies like pheasant or grouse, paired with a glass of wine or cider that will leave you satisfied for the rest of the day. Here you will find locally made preserves, spices and gourmet food items seldom seen except in Mrs Patmore's kitchen at Downton Abbey!
Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House, The Strand
The Courtauld Institute of Art, now part of London University, was founded in the 1930's by three cultural philanthropists, including Samuel Courtauld, and dedicated to a centre for the history of Art. This is the largest collection of Impressionist paintings in one place, and if you are a fan of Impressionist Art, this is the place to go. Located in a lovely baroque building, on the site of a former Royal Place on the banks of the Thames and close to the theatre district and Covent Garden Market, the permanent collection houses the largest collection of Cézannes and paintings and sculptures by Monet, Van Gogh and many others.
Tess Bridgwater is a travel writer who lives in southwestern Ontario, not far from Oxford County. She writes for the Record and other publications in Kitchener/Waterloo County, national magazines and is a member of SATW, the Society of American Travel Writers
The National Gallery in London was founded in 1824 and houses a rich collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900 in its home on Trafalgar Square. The gallery is an exempt charity, and a non-departmental public body of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Its collection belongs to the public of the United Kingdom and entry to the main collection (though not some special exhibitions) is free of charge.
Unlike comparable art museums such as the Louvre in Paris or the Museo del Prado in Madrid, the National Gallery was not formed by nationalising an existing royal or princely art collection. It came into being when the British government bought 38 paintings from the heirs of the insurance broker and patron of the arts John Julius Angerstein in 1824. After that initial purchase the Gallery was shaped mainly by its early directors, notably Sir Charles Lock Eastlake, and by private donations, which comprise two thirds of the collection. The resulting collection is small in size, compared with many European national galleries, but encyclopaedic in scope; most major developments in Western painting 'from Giotto to Cézanne' are represented with important works. It used to be claimed that this was one of the few national galleries that had all its works on permanent exhibition, but this is no longer the case.
The present building, the third to house the National Gallery, was designed by William Wilkins. Only the façade onto Trafalgar Square remains essentially unchanged from this time, as the building has been expanded piecemeal throughout its history. The building often came under fire for its perceived aesthetic deficiencies and lack of space; the latter problem led to the establishment of the Tate Gallery for British art in 1897. The Sainsbury Wing, an extension to the west by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, is a notable example of Postmodernist architecture in Britain. The current Director of the National Gallery is Nicholas Penny. SOURCE : WIKIPEDIA