Tag Archives: sculpture

20: Admire impressionist masterpieces for free at the Courtault Institute

Alongside world-class museums including the National Gallery, the British Museum or the Tate Modern, London is host to less popular museums that also display outstanding works of art. In the Courtault gallery, housed by the sumptuous Somerset House on the Strand, you won’t queue to get your ticket, nor will you struggle to get a glimpse at the paintings, as it is hardly ever crowded (as you can see on the pictures…). The building itself, with its elegant rooms and monumental staircase, is a jewel box for an equally understated collection:

room of the Courtault Institute 1

The ground floor features interesting works from the Middle Ages, but the Courtault is undoubtedly renown for the impressionist paintings of the 1st floor. Manet’s “A bar at the Folies-Bergère”, famous for its mirror reflection of the scene and the mysterious air of the waitress, is the star of the collection, followed by other masterpieces by Monet or Renoir. The much-admired Cézanne’s “Card players” and an nth view of Mount Sainte-Victoire are displayed alongside Gauguin’s paintings of Tahitian girls.

Manet's "a bar at the folies-bergères"

The top floor gathers aerial sculptures of dancers by Degas, and a collection of paintings from the 21st century, including fauvist works.

Degas' room at the Courtault Institute

The collection is completed with several Renaissance and Baroque paintings, and drawings from masters such as Da Vinci or Canaletto.

room of the Courtault Institute 3

The best part of it being that you can enter the Courtault Gallery for free every Monday before 2pm, or at any time if you’re a student. Now there’s no excuse to miss this opportunity!

Nearest Tube Station: Temple

Link to the Courtault Institute Website

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006: Like King Edward III and his wife, take pity on the burghers of Calais

The Burghers of Calais is admittedly one of Rodin’s most famous sculptures. It shows the 6 wealthiest men of Calais surrendering to King Edward III after he besieged the city for a whole year in the 14th century. The story goes that Edward III had planned to execute the burghers for their fierce resistance, but that his wife persuaded him to show mercy and spare the defeated men’s lives.

The Burghers of Calais by Rodin

It is somewhat surprising to find one of the 12 originals of the sculptures in Victoria Tower Gardens, a rather small and discrete garden just behind the Parliament. Even though it is located few minutes away from the busy Parliament Square, the garden and its sculpture usually go unnoticed. But it really is a shame, as they offer a nice piece of history (and a view on the river Thames).

view from Victoria Tower Gardens

Nearest Tube: Westminster