Monday, 16 December 2019

Let's draw the Wallace Collection - Saturday 15 February 2020


We visit the Wallace Collection, a free public art collection in Manchester Square north of Oxford Street.  The building, Hertford House, provides the focal point of this eighteenth century garden square. Each room in this eclectic museum is distinctively different. It houses treasures that include arms and armour, furniture, glassware and ceramics. Other interesting buildings in the area include St James RC Church, and the Chiltern Firehouse. 

The day is free of charge, no need to book, just turn up with your art kit.  

The Wallace Collection ask that drawing should be done with the following dry materials only: pencils, coloured pencils and graphite sticks.


Wallace Collection (exterior) at the head of the post, by Sasala Wickramasinghe, and Wallace Collection (interior) above, by Nicky Browne.

Key times and meeting points for the day:

11 am: Meet inside the Wallace Collection building in Porphyry Court on the lower ground floor.  Please ensure your art kit does not include sharp tools such as scissors or craft knives.  Allow time to check in bulky coats and bags in the cloakroom. 

A floorplan of the Wallace Collection can be downloaded from their website.

1 pm: Meet again at the Porphyry Court to look at drawings done so far.

3.30 pm: Meet again at the Porphyry Court.  We will look at drawings done, and take group photographs either there or nearby, depending how crowded it is.


Options for drawing:

The Wallace Collection is housed in Hertford House in Manchester Square W1. It was built as a family house for the Marquesses of Hertford. The last owner bequeathed it on condition that the collection would stay intact; no items in the collection could be sold or loaned.

It is a large collection of decorative arts, old masters, arms and armour collected in 30 galleries. The fall of the French monarchy enabled the family to buy many significant treasures of many sorts including porcelain. There are several well known works of art in the collection: Franz Hals' Laughing Cavalier is one surprise. Another is Fragonard's Girl on a Swing.

The State Rooms have been restored to their near original décor. The open courtyard is now a roofed coffee bar and restaurant, called Cafe Bagatelle after one of the Marquises’ Chateau Bagatelle (shown above, sketch by Sasala Wickramasinghe).

There is a free tour of highlights of the collection at 2.30 pm.


Immediately behind the Wallace Collection, in Spanish Place, is the Neo-Gothic St James RC Church (photograph above). Designed by Edward Goldie, completed in 1890, we are welcome to draw the complex and stunning interior.


Weather permitting, nearby Chiltern Street has the extraordinary Manchester Square Fire Station designed by Robert Pearsall and completed in 1889 (photograph above, drawing below, by Nicky Browne).  Known now as The Chiltern Firehouse, it is a luxury hotel and restaurant. As there is a waiting list for the waiting list, don't expect to pop in for lunch.  The Chiltern Firehouse is too closely furnished and busy to be an interior drawing option, but the outside is stunning.


Practical information:

The Wallace Collection is at Hertford House, Manchester Square, London W1U 3BN.  It is a national museum with free admission to the permanent collection.  The opening hours are 10 am to 5 pm.   There is a cloakroom, café, toilets and a shop.  The Wallace Collection website is informative.  Manchester Square is located near Oxford Street and the nearest station is Bond Street. Also close are Marble Arch or Baker Street.

There are several cafes, interesting pubs and independent shops nearby.  It is also close to the busy local shopping street: Marylebone High Street.

This day is run by Nicky Browne and Sasala Wickramasinghe, sketches and photographs are also by them.




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