Guildhall Art Gallery
The City of London began collecting works of art in the 17th century, when it commissioned portraits of the judges appointed to assess property claims in the wake of the Great Fire of London of 1666. Its collection now comprises more than 4,000 works of art ranging from royal portraits, to naval battles and period views of historic London to the work of contemporary artists. Since World War II the collection has focused on extending its holding of London subject matter.
A total refurbished of the gallery took place in the decade before the millennium and the gallery reopened to the public in 1999. The new gallery exhibits about 250 works at any one time, with a programme of temporary exhibitions exploring different themes and allowing many lesser-known pictures from the collection to be displayed. Arguably the most popular works in the Guildhall collection are its Victorian pictures, including well-known favourites like Millais, Landseer, Lord Leighton, Edward Poynter, John Constable, Lawrence Alma-Tadema, JJ.Tissot and John Singleton Copley. Over the years the collection has been enhanced by bequests including that by Mary Keene who in 1974 donated 175 oil paintings and more than 1000 watercolours and drawings by the important twentieth century artist Sir Matthew Smith.