Tuesday, 30 October 2012

The Wallace Collection at Hertford House, Manchester Sq. London

I always wondered what was in that great house on Manchester sq behind Selfridges in London. The house has a long history connected to several noblemen. It is said to be the finest collection of art ever assembled by one family, five generations, four Marquesses of Hertford and Sir Richard Wallace. Part of this collection is the most complete French Royal artifacts, furniture, objects, paintings of the period 1700 to 1790, all from the massive sales the French revolutionaries conducted as of 1793 from the Palace of Versailles and le Petit Trianon, including Sèvres porcelain dinner service and silverware, beautiful paintings and other small objects.  It also contains Medieval and Renaissance works of Art, Flemish Art, Dutch Art, Dutch masters, French Art, British Portraits, set in beautiful rooms as it might have been when Sir Richard Wallace lived there. The staff are very helpful, they can show you a work of art you would like to see but cannot find because of the size of the house. It is difficult to imagine living in such a house today loaded with art treasures and fine furniture. Then again people had lots of servants to take care of everything for you. Life was as a different pace and collecting beautiful things to impress society was important, it gave you gravitas. Much time was spent visiting fine houses and admiring the objects d'arts. Today the Wallace collection is the mirror of an age long ago. But it is not the only house in London where you can see how people lived. Some of these people like Frederick Lord Leighton who also has a beautiful house in the Arts and Crafts style at 12 Holland Park Road in Kensington, now a museum and an imposing mausoleum in St-Paul's Cathedral.

Hertford House known as the Wallace Collection on Manchester Sq, W1, London

one of the many rooms of the house, to help the visitor they have photos of the rooms as they were in 1890 when Sir Richard Wallace lived in the house. Not much as changed.

One of the many paintings on Napoleonic wars. This one is entitled the Regimental dog. The little dog has been injured and the drummer boy is cleaning the wound.

The top of the stairs in the house.

the Marie-Antoinette salon, everything in this room belonged to the Queen.

The middle painting is by Marie-Antoinette's personal portrait painter Marie-Louise Elizabeth Viger- Lebrun. The National Gallery in Ottawa will be holding the first retrospective of her work in 2014.

 Two medallions of Marie-Antoinette and her husband Louis XVI, made in 1774 of gilt bronze on marble.
this painting of Francesca da Rimini and her lover in hell visited by the poet Dante in his book
the Inferno. The frame was made following the text of Dante's epic work for Anatole Demidoff Prince of San Donato in 1853.

The original bill of sales of 1793 from Versailles advertising all the Royal property put up for auction by the Convention. Marie-Antoinette had 2 months to live at that point, her husband Louis had already been executed.


  1. The Marie Antoinette room is exquisite!

  2. Is Marie Viger Lebrun the same person as Louise Elisabeth Vigee Le Brun?

    Lovely photos. I've never been to the Hertford House, and I've never seen Regimental Dog before. That image is stirring. Thank you for sharing these images.

    I have been to Versailles once. Honestly, the urine smell was so overwhelming to me I couldn't take it and ended my tour quickly.

  3. Victor thank you for pointing that out to me, it is the same person. Well worth a visit.

  4. obviously I am behind in my reading; let me get through Halloween night and I am back at you!