You might say that Poland’s bad luck was England’s good luck and in the case of the Dulwich Picture Gallery, this is exactly the case. Commissioned by the King of Poland to create a National Collection two dealers spent five years putting together a stellar collection. It was never to be, Poland was partitioned by its larger stronger neighbors and the King forced to abdicate. Without a sponsor and stuck with the collection, the dealers eventually decided to give it to Dulwich College and the rest is history.
Dulwich is an easy day trip from Central London. You take the train from Victoria Station or London Bridge Station to West Dulwich; it is an easy 10-minute ride. From the station, take a right and then cross the street and go down Gallery Road. It is about a 10-minute walk. You can also take the bus or drive and there is parking along Gallery Road.
The cost of entrance is £6 for adults and 5£ for seniors, while children under 18 are free. The rooms are relatively small, and the lighting is excellent.
Room Five, which is the first room you enter, has two Raphaels, one of St. Anthony and one of St. Francis. They are both part of a larger altar piece. The second room in Gallery Five has a haunting St. Sebastian by Guido Reni; compare it with the St. Sebastian by Antonio Bellucci, quite a different interpretation. The Bellucci is light and yet tragic, and the Reni is so compelling; it is fascinating how he uses ashen grey for the skin tone, and yet the face is beautiful.
Room Four has six Poussins. The Triumph of David is now the favorite painting of copyist and students. Speaking of students, this is a favorite spot for school children to visit you can expect to see them and their teachers doing their art lesson in any and all of the rooms. A wonderful painting by Philippe de Campagne of Moses and the Ten Commandments that draws your eyes to that wall is also in this room. A Claude Lorraine landscape of Jacob, Laban, and his daughters is one of his most attractive works (in my opinion). He painted it when he was over 70 years old.
Room Three has a magnificent Reynolds girl with a baby, thought to be Emma Hamilton in her early days. It has a definite Impressionist look, not by deliberate effort but because Reynolds was experimenting with colors.
Room Two has a gorgeous Rubens, Venus, Mars and Cupid, and a Van Dyke of Venetia Stanley on her deathbed.
Room 11 has two Rembrandts and a Dou. Intermixed with the art was some lovely furniture. Between two Canalettos in one gallery is a Gainsborough portrait of an unknown couple, and underneath them is a beautiful French Commode. But the piece de resistance in this room is the portrait of the 4-year-old Princess Victoria. Her grown-up clothes and hat make her look very much the queen, even as a small child.
You get the picture, no pun intended, it is basically room after room of the most fabulous art.
Dulwich Picture Gallery is a wonderful small museum; chock full of the most wonderful art imaginable. It is well worth the effort to come out of London to visit.
I have been an Internet writer for more than 16 years. While I specialize in travel, I write on a variety of subjects. I love genealogy, food, and fashion. I have 10 grandchildren so family travel is something we often do.