Arts and Galleries in West Central London
From photography in Fitzrovia to metalwork in Mayfair and surrealism in Soho, London’s West End is home to dozens of the city’s most celebrated contemporary art galleries. Works of both London-based and internationally acclaimed artists are displayed in these galleries and with so many to choose from, it’s difficult to limit the visit to just one.
London’s high-profile public galleries are justly lauded the world over, but the capital’s artistic offerings stretch beyond the big-name attractions and include plenty of exceptional independent galleries too. If you’re in search of an alternative to the cultural institutions that dominate the itineraries of first-time visitors to London our guide to ten of London’s best independent galleries should help. With expansions, new arrivals, and relocations, London's gallery scene is thriving.
Whether you love Old Masters or modern art, contemporary sculpture or Impressionist paintings, London has an art gallery to suit you. London's smaller art galleries are full of hidden treasures. Whether you're into fine art, sculpture, photography, contemporary works or arty events, you will find hidden gems to satisfy your artistic interests in one of London's more intimate art spaces.
Broadcaster Clive James once described the National Gallery as "the best free show in town". It still is. Some sections, such as the impressionists, can be uncomfortably busy, but the building is so large that you can always find a quiet room full of treasures. Notable paintings (and it's hard to pick just three) include Van Gogh's Sunflowers, Turner's The Fighting Temeraire and Holbein's The Ambassadors. The gallery opens late on Friday evenings, offering free tours and talks.
National Portrait Gallery
Nestling up against the National Gallery, the NPG has a peerless collections of historic and contemporary portraits. The Tudor collection is particularly notable, with vast likenesses of Henry VIII, his family and court. The ground floor is also popular, and carries portraits of dozens of modern celebrities and notables. The cafe on the top floor (sadly, not free) offers impressive views of the West End.
The Courtauld Gallery
The Courtauld Gallery is one of London’s must-see art museums. The collection stretches from the early Renaissance into the 20th century and is displayed in the elegant setting of Somerset House, one of the city’s most dynamic cultural venues.The Gallery is particularly renowned for its unrivalled collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, including masterpieces by Monet, Van Gogh and Gauguin and the largest collection of Cézannes in the UK. The Gallery also holds an outstanding collection of drawings and prints and fine works of sculpture and decorative arts.