On Wednesday, June 16, Victoria towed husband Ed, just in from Heathrow, to the Wallace Collection in Manchester Square. It was just a short stroll from our apartment in George Street between Gloucester and Baker Streets. The Gallery has an excellent website.
The square is named after the Duke of Manchester, who built a house (then called Manchester House) on the north side in 1777, attracted by the good duck shooting in the area. In 1797 the 2nd Marquess of Hertford acquired the lease and it became known as Hertford House.
In the 19th century it was home to Sir Richard Wallace (1818–90), illegitimate son of the 4th Marquess, who displayed much of the Hertford family’s fabulous collection of fine and decorative arts here. In 1897 Lady Wallace left it to the nation as the Wallace Collection.
Hertford House today is a rare example of a London town house occupying the whole side of a garden square. A church originally planned for the centre of the square was never built.” My photo at left is of the grand staircase, installed in 1875. The Louis XV balustrade was made 1733-41 for the Bibliotheque du Roi in the Palais Mazarin in Paris, being sold as scrap iron when acquired for Hertford House. Imagine!
Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769 – 1830) painted this stunning portrait of
Margaret, Countess of Blessington, in 1822. Margaret (1789–1849) led an interesting life, marrying twice. She was an intimate of the Count D’Orsay and a friend of Lord Byron. She herself earned her living by writing for a time, but died in Paris, almost without funds.
John Hoppner (1758-1810) painted the Prince of Wales (later George IV) in 1792. In 1810, the Prince presented the portrait to the 3rd Marquess of Hertford, who held several court appointments and advised George on art. At the same time, the Marchioness of Hertford, mother of the 3rd Marquess, was the Prince’s favorite mistress.
If all this sounds incredibly confusing, welcome to the complicated story of the Seymour-Hertford family, their fantastic town house, their incredible art collection, and their involved relationships! Read more here.
Henry Bone (1755-1834) executed this enamel on copper miniature of Lady Hamilton as a Bacchante after a portrait by Élisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun (1755 – 1842). It was commissioned by Sir William Hamilton in 1803.
Another elegant room full of treasures. It is almost more than one can absorb. this was at least my third visit here and I will keep coming back to discover more.
One of several Canalettos. The furniture is brilliant, much of it by Boulle with details in bronze, marquetry and other materials that show incredible workmanship. There is no admission charge but for a couple of pounds, you should rent the audioguide.
And of course there is a wonderful gift shop to tempt you. Since my last visit several years ago, some revisions have been made in the displays and they have opened a restaurant. And wonder of wonders, they also allow photographs in the galleries, as you can see.