Dulwich Picture Gallery

Dulwich Gallery is the secret home of exquisite baroque art.


Dulwich Picture Gallery is a worthy temple of baroque art to the pilgrim on a mission to find it. The gallery, designed by Regency architect Sir John Soane using an innovative and influential method of illumination, was opened to the public in 1817. It is the oldest public art gallery in England and was made an independent charitable trust in 1994. The Dulwich Art Gallery houses a startling collection of Old Master paintings, with enough Van Dykes, Rembrandts, Gainsboroughs, Lelys, Poussins, and Hogarths to easily plagiarise an Art History degree from. There is also an excellent collection of escher Dulwich at the thing. Also dubbed as Dulwich Picture Gallery Escher.

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The original manor was acquired by a for-runner of charitable celebrities today in the form of Elizabethan actor, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Edward Alleyn who was best known his work with the Rose and Fortune Theatres; the Globe’s largest rival at the time. The initial bequeathment after Alleyn’s death naturally led to the foundation of a gallery in one of the floors of the building, though it was only in the late 18th century that it gained any sort of critical acclaim or popularity, being shunned by art historian and Whig politician Horace Walpole as nothing more than ‘a hundred mouldy portraits among apostles, sibyls, and kings of England.’ Dulwich art gallery exhibitions here.

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The 19th century saw the final realisation of the East Dulwich Picture Gallery as a respected institution, largely thanks to the design contributions of Sir John Soane who revolutionised the way in which paintings were displayed. As the architect in charge of renovations, he replaced most windows from the side of the new building with skylights so that the paintings could be illuminated under indirect lighting conditions which wouldn’t reflect off the oil paintings, obstructing the view of the visitors. This design of interlinked rooms lit by skylights has been the primary influence on art gallery design ever since.  Soane’s design is particularly significant in art gallery construction because of it is unrelated to traditional architectural practices or schools of architecture. Instead of constructing a facade with the stucco porticos favoured by many contemporary architects, he opted to use uninterrupted raw brick, a feature that has subsequently been adopted by many 20th-century art galleries.

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After Soane’s renovation, the gallery was open to students of the Royal Academy of Art, soon gaining traction as one of the most excellent locations for Old Masters copyists in the country. The students who graced its floors during the early years of their artistic development include John Constable, William Turner, and Vincent Van Gogh. With the collection itself spanning the French, English, Flemish, Italian, and Dutch schools, it has marked itself out as the museum in London that boasts the most coherent overview of the Old Masters aside from the National Gallery. So for those wanting to forego the crowds of the NG, Dulwich Picture Gallery is the best and fastest way to amass a thorough knowledge of Baroque painting without wasting any time on distractions, aesthetic or otherwise.


Dulwich Picture Gallery is located at Gallery Road, Southwark, SE21 7AD
Dulwich Picture Gallery Opening Hours: Daily from 10am-5pm
For information on Dulwich Gallery exhibitions, see their website here.

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