The Wallace Collection is a museum in London, with a world-famous range of fine and decorative arts from the 15th to the 19th centuries with large holdings of French 18th-century paintings, furniture, arms & armour, porcelain and Old Master paintings arranged into 25 galleries.
It was established in 1897 from the private collection mainly created by Richard Seymour-Conway, 4th Marquess of Hertford (1800–1870), who left it and the house to his illegitimate son Sir Richard Wallace (1818–1890), whose widow bequeathed the entire collection to the nation. The museum opened to the public in 1900 in Hertford House, Manchester Square, and remains there, housed in its entirety, to this day. A condition of the bequest was that no object ever leave the collection, even for loan exhibitions. Admission is free.
The Wallace Collection is a non-departmental public body.
The museum’s collection numbers nearly 5,500 objects and is best known for its quality and breadth of eighteenth-century French paintings, Sèvres porcelain and French furniture.
The Wallace Collection also displays many other treasures, such as two paintings by Titian, five Rembrandts, nine Rubenses, four Van Dycks, eight Canalettos, nineteen Bouchers, masterpieces by de Hooch, nine Teniers, Frans Hals, nine Murillos, two Velázquez and paintings by Domenichino, Cima, Daddi, Reni, Rosa, Thomas Gainsborough, Joshua Reynolds, Antoine Watteau, Nicholas Lancret, Jan Steen, Aelbert Cuyp and nine Guardis. The museum also holds a fine collection of arms and armour, featuring both European and Oriental objects, as well as displays of gold boxes, miniatures, sculpture and medieval and Renaissance works of art such as maiolica, glass, bronzes and Limoges enamels.
The works of art in the Collection comprise:
- Paintings,Watercolours and Drawings 775
- Furniture 528
- Ceramics 510
- European and Oriental Arms and Armour 2,370
- Sculpture 466
- Miniatures 334
- Medieval and Renaissance Works of Art 363
Goldsmiths’ Work 120
By far the most famous painting in the collection is Frans Hals ‘The Laughing Cavalier’ even if you only have ten minutes while shopping in the West End pop in and have a look.