London Dulwich Picture Gallery History
London Dulwich Picture Gallery was founded as the first public art gallery in Great Britain. It was opened in 1817. The gallery still remains the charitable institution and although it is not the state organization, admission is free for disabled, students and children here.
The gallery has an interesting history of its foundation. It was founded by two businessmen – Francis Bourgeois and Noel Dezenfan. Their business was connected with art – they sold pictures of different artists in London. One day they have got a great order. The King of Poland, Stanislaw August, asked the businessmen to gather the collection for him. He wanted to show it in Poland and asked the friends to get him the pictures of the best European artists of that time. Francis and Noel spent 5 years, buying the best works of art, but when the collection was ready, nobody could buy it. That time Poland was captured by the neighboring countries and its territory was divided among them.
No one wanted to buy very expensive collection and the friends had to keep it themselves. They liked it so much that accomplished it according to their taste. Later Dezenfan died and his friend decided to present the collection as a gift to some state museum to honor his companion. Nevertheless the workers of the museum seemed too quirky to him and he decided to bequeath the collection to Dulwich College. He gave very expensive collection, but his only condition was to build the new dwelling to keep the collection safe and make it public – affordable for poor people.
The administration of the college fulfilled the wish of Francis and hired John Soane to make the project. John created very simple building, but he put the windows in such an order, that the sunlight fell through them in the centre of the room. Thus it was always light in the building, but it was not too bright to make the colors of pictures dim.
Till now the gallery remains one of the most popular in London. It has permanent and temporary exhibitions.
London Dulwich Picture Gallery Exhibitions
The permanent exhibition in Dulwich Picture Gallery is not large. Nevertheless the pictures, that are shown there, are very interesting, popular and unusual. European artists of 17th and 18th centuries are present there. Most of them are British, but there are also French, Italian artists and others. The permanent collection of the gallery is situated in three separate rooms. In the first room the visitors admire the picture “Tragic Muse” of Sir Joshua Reynolds. It is the portrait of Sarah Siddons. Sarah used to be an actress of the 18th century. She became popular due to her role of Lady Macbeth (Shakespeare). She was 28, when the famous artist, Reynolds, offered her to pose for his picture. He had a great idea and painted Sarah in the image of Melpomene, Greek muse of tragedy. The portrait became one of his best works and can be seen as a part of permanent exhibition of Dulwich Gallery.
If you come to the second room, watch the picture of Rembrandt. It is the main item in the permanent collection, probably. His “Girl at a Window” is a masterpiece, it goes without saying.
In the third room you will be impressed by the work of Poussin, called “Triumph of David”. Works of many other European artists can be noticed here too.
Unfortunately, the permanent exhibition of the gallery isnot full. In 1966 it was robbed and 8 pictures of famous artists were stolen from here.
Temporary exhibitions are interesting here too. If you are going to visit London Dulwich Picture Gallery, you will see Ravilious. Hurry up to attend this exhibition, as it is on just till the 31st of August! This exhibition is charged, but nevertheless it is worth seeing.
Eric Ravilious was a famous designer of the former century. But he also used to be one of the most talented watercolorists in the world. The exhibition, presented at Dulwich Gallery, includes 80 works of art. Some of them are very famous like “Train Landscape” and the others are taken from the private collection and they appear in public at first time.
If you have made up your mind to visit the gallery, study the schedule of its work!
London Dulwich Picture Gallery Opening Hours
As usual, the gallery is closed on Monday. Sometimes it may be open on that day, if it is some holiday and many visitors wish to come here. The place of interest is affordable from Tuesday to Sunday. It starts its work at 10.00 and ends it at 17:00. The last admission is at 16:30.
The prices for tickets are various; it depends on the exhibition you are going to visit. The tickets to permanent collection are cheap; they are £6 for adults and £5 for senior citizens. Children under 18, students and disabled can come here for free.
The tickets for temporary exhibitions are a bit more expensive. Ravilious Exhibition is extremely popular, so the time to spend there is limited. Thus you get the ticket and then may use it at any other exhibition here during one day, but Ravilious exhibition can be attended just during several hours.
The donations are welcomed here. The administration of the gallery tells that all the money they get for tickets and donations are used for the development of the gallery and to realize different educative programs.
How to Get to London Dulwich Picture Gallery
Address of London Dulwich gallery is Gallery Road London SE21 7AD.
It is not hard to get there, although it is not situated in the centre of London. Actually, the gallery is located in Dulwich village. It is possible to come here by train (you can get it in the central part of London). When you get off the train, take a short walk.
If you come by car, you should know, that the amount of parking places near the gallery is too little, so come earlier to occupy one of them or use public transportation.
It is possible to come here by bus too. Take the numbers 3, 37, P4 and others.
Cycling is another way to get there. Places to leave the bikes at are affordable not far from the gallery and they are free!
Telephone of London Dulwich gallery: +44 20 8693 5254
London Dulwich Picture Gallery Shops and Restaurants
The day in the gallery will be long, interesting and quite hard, so it is a good idea to have a snack after it. The café is situated just in the building of the gallery. There you can have breakfast, lunch or dinner and change the opinion about the gallery with your friends.
For those, who like to get souvenirs from any place of interest they visit, gift shop is opened just near the gallery. Books, posters, photos – different kinds of small gifts are affordable here to remember your day in the gallery.
After staying inside during two or three hours, it is possible to come outside and spend several hours in the gardens near the gallery.
In fact, it is advisable to visit Dulwich Picture Gallery. It is informative, interesting and is absolutely necessary for people, who care about their education!