Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Wallace Collection

Publish PostMarie Antoinette Room - this is the largest collection of her furnishings outside of France.
This week I was able to visit the Wallace Collection close by in Marelybone's Manchester Square with friends from my congregation.  My husband and I had passed it on a walking tour of Marelybone, but this was the first opportunity to go inside.

This (free) national museum of French porcelain, furniture, and paintings was collected in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by the first four Marquesses of Hertford (the french title created by British monarchs and organization of family pedigree alludes me) and Sir Richard Wallace.  It was gathered into the family's main London residence, Hertford House on Manchester Square, and given to the nation in trust by Lady Wallace, Sir Richard's widow, in 1897.

I cannot imagine living and feeling comfortable among so many grand things, but I certainly appreciated the beauty of it all.  It reminded me somewhat of Fredricksborg Castle in Denmark, in that the rooms were laid out as they could have been while the family was living there.  Very approachable,  interactive, and intimate.   As their website claims, it is all very charming.

The garden cafe, built into the home's courtyard, was also welcoming, and in keeping with the French feel of the place.  I noticed that one of our waiters was French.

I also noticed that free tours, art classes, and lectures are given there.  There will be a repeat visit, I am sure.

My favorite piece of art there.
Cupid and Psyche, 1732
(although the inscription claims it dates to 1709).

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