The Wallace Collection is one of many highly regarded art galleries in London. You’ll find the Wallace Collection in Hertford House which is situated on Manchester Road in Marylebone. The collection boasts fine and decorative arts from the 15th to 19th Centuries and includes important holdings of French 18th Century paintings, furniture, arms, armour and porcelain.
So, how did the Wallace Collection come to be? Well Hertford House was the former townhouse of the Seymour Family. Captain Richard Seymour-Conway, was the 4th Marquess of Hertford and was the son of Francis Seymour-Conway, 3rd Marquess of Hertford and Maria Seymour-Conway, Marchioness of Hertford. They were one of the richest families in Europe, marrying for wealth across several generations. It was the 3rd and 4th Marquess of Hertford that were responsible for building the original collection. They had very little political involvement and instead pursued their interest in art and began their own family collection.
Richard Seymour-Conway, was actually brought up in Paris by his mother as his parents were estranged. Despite being the 4th Marquess of Hertford, he actually spent most of his life in France, which explains the French influences within the Wallace Collection itself.
You may be wondering why it is named the Wallace Collection? Well Richard Seymour-Conway never actually married but he did have an illegitimate son named Richard Wallace. Richard Wallace was also an art collector, so when his father died in 1870, he left his son his collection. Richard Wallace himself also added to the collection and by the time he passed away in 1897, it comprised of about 5,500 works of art.
Following the death of Richard Wallace the collection was left to his wife, Julie Amélie Charlotte Wallace. She decided that she wanted to donate the Wallace Collection to the whole nation, on the condition that not a single object could leave the collection. The Wallace Collection was bequeathed to the nation in 1897 and it is regarded as one of the greatest gifts of art works ever to be given to the public. The collection was opened to the public as a museum in 1900.
To this day, The Wallace Collection remains open to the public and people can admire art free of charge at Hertford House. The collection is dutifully cared for by the Conservation Department who work hard to preserve it for future generations to come.
After viewing the collection, take a trip to Aubaine for some delicious French food. https://aubaine.co.uk/our-restaurants/marylebone/
Next up: St Christopher’s Palace