Bequeathed to the nation in 1897, the Wallace Collection displays outstanding works collected by the Marquesses of Hertford and Sir Richard Wallace in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The Wallace Collection is a family collection in origin – but no ordinary family. The 4th Marquess, an almost obsessive collector of art, left it all to his illegitimate son and fellow enthusiast, Richard Wallace. Wallace's widow, in turn, left the entire extraordinary collection to the nation – one of the greatest ever bequests of art to the public.

What’s it like?

One of the most charming and approachable ways to enjoy an internationally renowned collection.

Shortly after Wallace brought his inheritance to London from Paris, he loaned every last piece to Bethnal Green Museum to make it available to the public – the sense that these exquisite works of art belong to us all is never lost in the sumptuous, aristocratic surroundings.

What should I see?

Nobody knows who he is, but everybody loves The Laughing Cavalier (1624) by Frans Hals. The flamboyant figure is neither laughing nor a cavalier (the title was invented in the late 19th century), but the twinkle in his eye and excellent moustache are almost guaranteed to put you in a good mood.

Don’t skip the astonishing collections of arms and armour, including the extremely rare and well-preserved equestrian armour from around 1480. An example of the German ‘Gothic’ style, the near-complete assembly evokes the elegance and power of the medieval knight.

Famous views of Venice by the 18th-century master Canaletto capture the colour and splendour of the city and were keenly sought after by British tourists on the Grand Tour. The 1st Marquess acquired two of the artist's finest paintings – different views of Venice’s inner harbour – probably as a souvenir from his own travels in Italy.

The Wallace Collection is currently crowdfunding through Art Happens to raise money to clean and restore two outstanding paintings of the iconic Doge’s palace by Canaletto.

What’s nearby?

For something completely different, discover the compelling and at times terrifying history of dentistry at the BDA Dental Museum, just over five minutes walk away.

There is a musical theme if you venture a little further on foot – the Royal Academy of Music Museum and the Handel & Hendrix Museum are about 10 minutes in opposite directions.

As The Wallace Collection is located right in the middle of London, a short ride on public transport will bring you to dozens more of the capital’s fantastic museums and galleries.

Tell me something I don’t know

The house itself was built by the Duke of Manchester in the 1700s because there was good duck shooting nearby. It was acquired in 1797 by the 2nd Marquess of Hertford, who was more interested in hosting amazing parties – including the Allied Sovereigns’ Ball after the defeat of Napoleon in 1814. The house has also been home to the French and Spanish embassies.

Help the Wallace Collection raise £17,500 to conserve two paintings by Canaletto to reveal the true colours of 18th-century Venice.

We need your help to clean and restore two iconic views of Venice – the Molo with Santa Maria della Salute and the Riva degli Schiavoni – by Canaletto, the great 18th-century Venetian painter. This pendant pair shows the iconic view of the Doge’s Palace in Venice from opposing sides and stunningly illustrates the master’s unrivalled ability to depict Venice’s magnificent glory.

Find out more and donate

18th century art19th century art

The Wallace Collection

Hertford House, Manchester Square, London, W1U 3BN

020 7563 9500


Opening times

Daily, including bank holidays, 10am – 5pm Closed 24 – 26 Dec

Free to all

20% off dining on Fridays and Saturdays, from 5pm.

Valid to 31 December 2018

Round off your visit to the Wallace Collection with a meal at Oliver Peyton's The Wallace Restaurant in the beautiful glazed courtyard. Show your National Art Pass to receive 20% off your bill for food and wine. This discount is available on Fridays and Saturdays, from 5pm. Booking required, see below for details.

Haven't got your pass yet? Learn more

Exhibitions at The Wallace Collection

Exhibitions nearby

Back to top