The Guildhall Art Gallery has just re-opened following its first rehang since the present building opened in 1999. The gallery is one of London’s hidden gems, it's a relatively small, intimate space compared to some of the more well known art galleries, but it offers is a remarkable collection of Victorian and Pre Raphaelite paintings. I was delighted to be invited to the press launch prior to the gallery opening to the public.
The gallery (centre) is in an impressive location adjacent to the Guildhall, the City of London’s town hall (left)
The Guildhall Art Gallery was originally opened in 1886 and was one of the first public art galleries in London. The present building dates from 1999 and was designed by Richard Gilbert Scott, the great grandson of George Gilbet Scott who designed the Albert Memorial and the Midland Grand Hotel at St Pancras Station.
The gallery beautifully showcases the City of London Corporation's art collection which dates back to 1670 and contains about 4,500 items. The collection is renowned for having one of the most extensive collections of Victorian paintings in the world.
Work - Main Gallery
The main gallery has an impressive, thematic display of Victorian paintings focusing on subjects such as love, faith, work and leisure. All these topics are just as important to us today as they were in the 1800s and it's fascinating to see how the Victorians represented these themes in their artwork. Here are a couple of my personal favourites.
La Ghirlandata by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
The Music Lesson by Fredric Leighton
My Second Sermon (left) and My First Sermon (right) both by John Everett Millais
Pomegranates by Albert Joseph Moore
The Execution of Lady Jane Grey by Paul Delaroche
The painting of Lady Jane Grey is particularly poignant as her trial was held in the Guildhall, adjacent to the gallery, in 1553.
Laying the Foundation Stone of the Royal Exchange About 1842 - Artist unknown
What makes the gallery so special for me is its fascinating collection of paintings on the history and topgraphy of London.
Selection of paintings of Smithfield Market
As well as the artwork the gallery houses the remains of a Roman Amphitheatre which was only discovered in 1988.
The Guildhall Art Gallery also has temporary exhibtions and a new Heritage Gallery that just opened in 2014, and which I have previously written a blog about.
The Guildhall Art Gallery was always been one of my favourite places to explore in the City, as it has such a beautiful collection of artwork, and after the rehang it looks amazing and is well worth visiting.
Address: Guildhall Art Gallery & Roman London's Amphitheatre, Guildhall Yard (off Gresham Street), London, EC2V 5AE
Nearest Tube Stations: Bank or Moorgate
Opening Hours: Monday - Saturday 10am - 5pm, Sunday 12 noon - 4pm
Website: Guildhall Art Gallery
If you enjoyed this you might like to check out my earlier blogs about the City of London.
If you'd like to explore the City please have a look at my walks portfolio.
The author of this blog is a qualified City of London and City of Westminster Tour Guide who leads guided walks combining world famous landmarks with hidden treasures often missed by the crowds