Wednesday 2 January 2013

Coxsoft's London

Here are some of my favourite art galleries and museums in London, updated for 2015.

The National Gallery: its facade dominates Trafalgar Square. The gallery's huge collection of old master paintings includes many key works of the Renaissance. Entry is free. Special exhibitions with admission charges are held in the Sainsbury Wing (CLICK).

The British Museum houses our plunder from the days when we still had an empire. Use the rear entrance to find its art gallery. One month it may exhibit Chinese watercolours or Japanese prints, the next Indic art or chalk sketches by an old master (CLICK).

Royal Academy of Arts: home of Michelangelo's Tondo Taddei, also called The Virgin and Child with the Infant St John, the only sculpture by Michelangelo in Britain. The RA owns a collection of works by its old boys. Its Summer Exhibition is famous, but expensive (CLICK).

The Victoria and Albert Museum, now known as the V&A, houses a wonderful collection of arts and crafts: everything from netsuki to ironwork. Its Cast Hall boasts plaster-cast Davids by Donatello, Verrocchio, and Michelangelo (CLICK.)

The Natural History Museum, where the dinosaurs hang out, has long been one of my favourites. The building is magnificent, with many gargoyles and relief sculptures. Its life-sized model of a blue whale is awe-inspiring (CLICK).

Dulwich Picture Gallery houses a collection of magnificent paintings by Poussin, Murillo, Gainsborough and others. Gainsborough's brilliant portrait The Linley Sisters and Murillo's The Flower Girl are two of its treasures (CLICK).

Kenwood House: restyled by Robert Adam. The Adam library is a work of art in itself. The Iveagh Bequest boasts Vermeer's Guitar Player among its collection. It stands on Hampstead Heath. Visit in spring when the banks of naturalised daffodils are in bloom (CLICK).

The William Morris Gallery in Lloyd Park, Walthamstow, is a must for anyone interested in the Arts and Crafts Movement and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Lloyd Park boasts a fine collection of waterfowl. Take a picnic in summer (CLICK).

The Horniman Museum is something of an oddity. It houses three disparate collections: Ethnography (art and artifacts), Natural History and Musical Instruments. If you believe that religion is a good thing, view the Spanish Inquisition torture chair and think again (CLICK).

National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, has a huge collection of nautical paintings and at least one Canaletto. The Painted Hall in the Old Royal Naval College is awesome. The Queen's House, designed by Inigo Jones in 1616, contains the UK's first cantilevered staircase (CLICK).

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, not only boasts  a wonderful horticultural collection, but also an outstanding collection of botanical illustrations. Kew Palace reopened in 2006, after extensive restoration. Visit in May or June when the rhododendrons are in bloom (CLICK).


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