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Dulwich Picture Gallery

Described as "the most beautiful, small gallery in the world", with the building as fine as its contents, the Dulwich Picture Gallery was recently renovated and improved to make it even more of a must-see. Designed by Sir John Soane (1753-1837), building was the first purpose-built public art gallery in Britain.

Token of its significance, the gallery's reopening was performed by the Queen.

The architect Sir John Soane (1753-1837) was a visionary. His building, the first purpose-built public art gallery in Britain, was widely acknowledged as revolutionary. Inspired by an austere classicism - and technically neo-classical in period - Soane's interest was in the use of monumental architectural shapes and the play of light and vistas within them. A building like the Dulwich Picture Gallery appears simple - a primitivist construction in ugly brick - yet each element is curiously detached by some slight break or recession. Within, Soane cleverly bounced light to create the illusion of spaces beyond space.

The collection at the Dulwich Picture Gallery is rich and diverse. Originally commissioned in 1790 for the then King of Poland, the monarch proceeded to lose his throne and fail to be able to afford it. It passed through various private hands before finally being bequeathed to the nation in 1811. Its paintings range from a series of exquisite Poussins, some fine Italian (Guido Reni, Guercino) and Spanish (Murillo) work, to Sir Joshua Reynolds' famous towering portrait of the great actress Mrs Siddons as the Tragic Muse. A little out of the way for those doing the West End gallery trail, Dulwich Picture Gallery easily merits a day trip of its own.

Dulwich Picture Gallery

Dulwich Picture Gallery Information

When: Daily

Where: London

Cost: £4; concessions £3; children free

Opening Hours: Tue-Fri 10am-5pm; Sat, Sun & Bank Holidays 11am-5pm

Address: Gallery Road, Dulwich Village, London, SE21 7AD

Hotels near Dulwich Picture Gallery

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