02 April 2010


It's nice when a place like the Wallace Collection exists, allowing a rococo fix without having to have any in the home -- a little rococo goes a long way. Being a particular fan of 17th, 18th and 19th century still life and decorative arts, I recently visited the Wallace Collection, a donation-supported (no entry fee) museum near Oxford Street in London. Collected between c. 1760 and 1880, it is the family collection of the first four Marquesses of Hertford and of Sir Richard Wallace, son of the 4th Marquess, and is now displayed in the main townhouse of former owners, Sir Richard and Lady Wallace. The house has been a museum since 1900, Lady Wallace gave the location and it's contents to Britain in 1897.

The most important thing is that there are dozens of Dutch and French School still life on display, and in addition to the usual intricately inlaid wood hutches, needlepoint sofas, etc. the Wallace's decorative arts include several original and fully operational clocks (chiming the hour, quarter and half hours) and chandeliers. If you are into this sort of thing then you know most museums don't typically have their pieces in working order, so the Wallace Collection is especially fabulous. Obviously being in love with the 18th and 19th centuries I recommend watching the Duchess, Mrs. Brown, Valmont, or Marie Antoinette before or after visiting the Wallace Collection, for the full effect. Also on the first floor, if you're into pre-18th century, there is an astounding collection of armor and swords from the Middle Ages, complete with centuries-old joust marks on some.

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