Dulwich Picture Gallery
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An architectural masterpiece sitting peacefully in garden grounds, Dulwich Picture Gallery houses a rich collection of Old Master paintings and a lively exhibition programme.
The Dulwich Picture Gallery first opened to the public in 1817, seven years before the House of Commons invested in the collection that would become the National Gallery. The gallery maintains its founding principle: to make art accessible for everyone. Its free displays range from Italian, Spanish and French masterpieces to Dutch and Flemish artists, alongside a selection of British portraits from the Tudor period through to the 19th century.
The gallery’s special exhibitions have proven particularly popular for shining a light on emerging artists and figures overlooked by history – as well as repositioning famous names. Talks, lectures and workshops all invite visitors to delve deeper into this temporary programme, as well as forging new connections with the permanent collection of over 600 paintings. Bequeathed to Dulwich College in 1811, this is especially strong in European masterpieces, featuring works of art by Rembrandt, Rubens, Gainsborough and more.
The collection originally began as a commission for the King of Poland, acquired over five years but was left in the possession of painter Sir Francis Bourgeois when the king abdicated in 1795. Leading architect Sir John Soane designed a purpose-built gallery, creating rooms flooded with natural light from innovative roof lanterns. You’ll notice a striking similarity between the roof and the top of the red post box on the grounds, a later design by Giles Gilbert Scott.
Dulwich Art Gallery’s peaceful surroundings, carefully curated shop and seasonal, art-inspired café menu all combine to make this a charming visit.
Why you should go
Founded over 200 years ago
A collection commissioned by a king
Exhibitions showcase new, known and forgotten artists