Wallace Collection

London, United Kingdom | C.1897

Photo Credit: Rob Bentley

The Wallace Collection is an art collection in London housed at the Hertford House in Manchester Square. It comprises an extensive array of fine and decorative arts from the 15th to the 19th centuries with important holdings of French 18th-century paintings, furniture, arms and armor, porcelain and old master paintings arranged into 30 galleries.

The collections was established in 1897 from the private collection mainly created by Richard Seymour-Conway, the 4th Marquess of Hertford, who left both it and the house to his illegitimate son Sir Richard Wallace. It opened to permanent public view in 1900 in the Hertford House, under the condition that no object should ever leave the collection, even for loan exhibitions.

The 16th and 17th century Hertford House was the townhouse of Edward Seymour, 1st Earl of Hertford and was in a different location in Westminster. His father Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, had started building the palatial Somerset House on the Strand as his townhouse, but did not live to complete it.

The present House, in Manchester Square, was the townhouse of a later branch of the family. It was one of the numerous properties that belonged to the family but was only lived in briefly in the late eighteenth century. Later in its history, the house served as both the French and Spanish Embassy.

As a museum the Wallace Collection contains over 5,500 works. Its main strength is its extraordinary array of eighteenth-century French art, and how paintings, furniture and porcelain are displayed together to recreate the atmosphere of the grand private collections of the nineteenth century.

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