9. London: Gallery Art Tour
This tour takes in two of the most famous galleries in London, and one a little less well known. We visit the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery. Then we go by taxi to the Wallace Collection in Manchester Square. Inside the three galleries we take a journey through European painting, and look at the treasures of these collections, ranging from 13th century Italy to 19th century France. There are world class paintings to see in all three galleries, and all the great names are there, from Leonardo da Vinci to Van Gogh. In addition, the Wallace Collection is housed in an impressive 18th century mansion, with its recently restored grand picture gallery.
We meet at 10am on the front steps of St Martin in the Fields Church on the east side of Trafalgar Square. After visiting the two galleries side by side in Trafalgar Square, we travel by taxi to just north of Oxford Street, concluding with an afternoon tea at the Wallace Collection restaurant.
We start by looking at Trafalgar Square and hearing about the beginnings of the National Gallery and the Square, which marks London’s centre. Going first into the Sainsbury wing of the National Gallery, which houses the earliest paintings in the collection, we start with paintings from 14th century Italy and follow a timeline to Leonardo da Vinci. From here we cross to the original building, where rooms reflect the developments in painting across Europe. So we go on a journey to Holland in the Golden Age, with masterpieces by Rembrandt and Vermeer, and we see how painting developed in Spain, most famously with works by Velasquez. At around 11.30 we take a coffee break in the lovely National Gallery Café. Returning to the galleries to look at English Painting, egs. Turner and Constable, followed by perhaps the most popular paintings in the gallery, those of the French Impressionists: Monet, Seurat, Cezanne and Van Gogh.
At approx. 12.30 p.m., we will walk to the adjacent National Portrait Gallery to see the collection of Tudor Portraits illustrating English History with famous images of Henry VIII and Elizabeth 1st. We will then take a taxi from the National Portrait Gallery to Manchester Square. Aiming to arrive around 2.00pm at the Wallace Collection, we will explore this magnificent 18th century mansion which has become one of London’s favourite, but less well known, museums. Here we will find a remarkable art collection, but also armour, clocks and furniture in beautifully restored rooms. There is for example, an entire room dedicated to views of Venice by Canaletto and Guardi. We are now ready for a well deserved afternoon High Tea in the Wallace Collection café. After tea the tour concludes here, a short walk from the shops of Oxford Street.