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Located away from the busy center of London, the Dulwich Art Gallery isn't so easy to access compared with other major art collections but the place possesses a special interest due to the quality of its works and exhibitions.
The building itself was designed by Regency architect Sir John Soane and was opened to the public in 1817, making it is the oldest public art gallery in England.
The origin of the collections started with two successful art dealers of Georgian times, Frenchman Noël Desenfans, and his younger Swiss friend, Sir Francis Bourgeois. Both dealers were commissioned by Stanislaus Augustus, King of Poland, to form from scratch a Royal Collection-National Gallery in order to encourage the progress of the fine arts in Poland.
They devoted five years to this task, but in the meantime, Poland became an independent state, forcing the King to abdicate and the project was abandoned with the dealers left with a royal collection on their hands.
Soon, it became obvious that the are dealers would be unable to sell the collection in its entirety, they began to seek other solution and got in touch with suitable institutions. After some times they decided to leave it to Dulwich College, clearly stating that the paintings should be on public display.
Due to the goal behind the acquisition of artworks, the Dulwich Picture Gallery houses one of the country’s finest collections of Old Masters.
One room showcases a variety of portraits by British artists from as early as Tudor times right up to the 19th-century.
One room focuses particularly on one of the great masters of 18th-century painting in Britain, Thomas Gainsborough.
One room pays tribute to Rubens and Van Dyck who are arguably two of the best known Flemish artists of the 17th-century.
For the French school, Poussin and Claude are to be found in abundance in this gallery. Dulwich Picture Gallery holds one of the largest collections of paintings by Poussin in the country.
One room is dominated by works painted by the masters of 16th and 17th-century Italy including important fragments of altarpieces by Raphael and Veronese, a portrait of a young man by Piero di Cosimo.
Finally, a gallery represents Dutch painting from the 17th-century and early 18th-century ranging from the still lives of Van Huysum and landscapes by Van de Velde, Jacob Van Ruisdael and Hobbema to genre scenes by Gerrit Dou and figure paintings by Rembrandt.
Sir Anthony van Dyck was a Flemish Baroque artist who became the leading court painter in England, after enjoying great success in Italy ... read more
Canaletto was an Italian painter of landscapes, or vedute, of Venice. He was also an important printmaker in etching.
He was ... read more
Charles Le Brun was a French painter and art theorist. Declared by Louis XIV "the greatest French artist of all time", he was a dominant ... read more
Nicolas Poussin was the leading painter of the classical French Baroque style, although he spent most of his working life in Rome. His ... read more
Paolo Veronese was an Italian painter of the Renaissance in Venice, famous for paintings such as The Wedding at Cana and The Feast in ... read more
Sir Peter Paul Rubens was a Flemish Baroque painter. He is well known for his Counter-Reformation altarpieces, portraits, landscapes, ... read more
Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino was an Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance. His work is admired for its clarity of form and ... read more
Rembrandt was a Dutch painter and etcher. He is generally considered one of the greatest painters and printmakers in European art and ... read more
Thomas Gainsborough was an English portrait and landscape painter. He was the youngest son of John Gainsborough, a weaver and, in 1740, ... read more
William Hogarth was an English painter, printmaker, pictorial satirist, social critic, and editorial cartoonist who has been credited ... read more