top art galleries - a general guide
Public and private - an unparalleled national
There is a commonly held belief that Britain's best art galleries are
all in London. They are not.
- The Battle of San Romano, painted around 1440.
Given the importance of the great London galleries, and the
existence in and around London of other major collections on view to
the public, it is easy to imagine that the whole of Britain's national
art heritage is to be found within twenty miles of the Houses of
Nothing could be further from the truth. The great
national collections in London - the National Gallery, the Tate, the
Tate Modern, and others, are just the icing on the cake.
Even London has smaller top-quality art galleries,
that might be given far more prominence if they were located in some
other European or American cities. The Courtauld Gallery, the
Dulwich gallery, Aspley House and Kenwood House are just four other
London addresses with world-class collections of art.
In addition, the Royal Collection, belonging to
the Queen, is one of the world's greatest art collections, and works
from it can be seen in national museums, and also in Royal palaces such
as Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, that are open to the public.
Outside the London area, there are three types of
major art gallery in Britain. Both Wales and Scotland have their
national art collections; all of Britain's provincial cities also have
their art galleries, some of them with major collections; and finally
there are wonderful old master collections to be found in some of
Britain's great stately homes, perhaps the most notable being Harewood
House in Yorkshire, with a world-class collection, or the magnificent
Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, or Drumlanrig Castle in southwest
The best London
art galleries - the top ten
|Name & location
||Britain's major national art collection;
one of the finest and richest collections of old master paintings in
the world, with works by most of the world's greatest artists
||British art from 1500 to the present,
including all the great British masters from the Renaissance, through
Turner and Constable and the Preraphaelites, to Francis Bacon
||The world's most visited modern art
gallery, with a full collection of twentieth and twenty-first century
art, from Braque and Picasso to Damian Hirst and other contemporary
Somerset House, the Strand
||A compact but very high quality collection
of masterworks, from the Italian Renaissance to the 20th
century. Includes a major collection of French Impressionists
north of Oxford Street
significant collection of old and modern masters, including six works
by Rembrandt, Frans Hals's world-renowned "Laughing Cavalier",
collection of 18th century French art, one work by Titian and two by
Dulwich, S-E London
||A major collection of European art from the
16th to the 19th centuries. Notable for its 3 Rembrandts, 2 Raphaels, 4
Murillos and 9 works by Sir Joshua Reynolds.
Hampstead, north London
||Small top-quality collection of old master
paintings, including works by Vermeer, Rembrandt, Frans Hals,
|National Portrait Gallery
||Plenty of great masters, but the paintings
are thematically limited to portraits of great and less great figures
of British history.
||Some two hundred paintings, mostly from the
nineteenth century or
earlier, including 4 works by Velazquez and one by Goya, and masters of
the Dutch, Flemish and English schools
|Victoria and Albert Museum
||Though one of the world's top dozen visited
museums, the V&A is primarily a decorative arts museum, not an
art gallery. However it does have a significant collection of
paintings, notably 18th and 19th century art.
Visitors to London should not miss out either on the British Museum.
Though esssentially a museum rather than an art gallery, the British
Museum is home to one of the world's greatest collections of prints and
drawings, including drawings by Leonardo da Vinci, Michaelangelo,
Dürer, Turner, Blake, Picasso, and many more.
Top ten art galleries in
|Name & location
|National Gallery of Scotland
||A concise but world-class gallery located
between Princes' St. and the Castle. It includes works by Boticelli,
Raphael, Titian, Vermeer, Rembrandt, El Greco, Ingres, Monet,
Turner and Constable, plus many more
university museum, the Ashmolean covers a wide range of painting and
other arts. Among the highlights are drawings by Michaelangelo and
Leonardo da Vinci, and paintings by Uccello, Giorgione, Rembrandt,
Turner, Constable, Renoir and Picasso
|Kelvingrove Art Gallery
||Kelvingrove covers a lot more fields than
just art; but the collection of paintings is top quality,
particularly on the dutch Renaissance and the French
impressionists, as well as Salvador Dali's seminal work Christ of St.
John of the Cross.
|Walker Art Gallery
||From Rembrandt to contemporary art, by way
of the English Preraphaelites and the French Impressionists, the Walker
has one of the best collections of any English provincial gallery
||A grand stately home, containing an art
collection largely acquired in the early 20th century. It includes
works by Bellini, Titian, Veronese and El Greco
|Scottish National Museum of Modern Art
|A fine collection of modern art and
sculpture; paintings include works by Picasso, Braque, Mondrian,
Matisse, Warhol, and Francis Bacon among others. The sculpture
garden includes pieces by Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth.
||The largest collection of modern and
contemporary art in Britain, outside London. Shows works from the
national collection, and special exhibitions.
|Birmingham art gallery
||One of the best collections of works by the
English Preraphaelites, as well as a representative collection covering
the main perods of European art since the Renaissance
Salford Quays, Manchester
||Modern museum, built to house a great
collection of the works of L.S.Lowry, one of the most iconic British
artists of the 20th century, chronicler of life in Britain's industrial
||Particularly rich in 19th century French
art, with many Impressionists and the world's largest collection of
works by Honoré Daumier.
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