Dulwich Picture Gallery has a unique reputation as England’s first public art gallery. It has been in existence since 1811 when Sir Francis Bourgeois bequeathed his collection of old masters to the public. The attractive building, which was designed by Sir John Sloane, has influenced the design of art galleries ever since, with its series of interlinking rooms lit naturally through skylights; it also includes a mausoleum for the founders. There are around 350 paintings on permanent display, mostly organised by nationality of the artist.

The permanent collection focuses predominantly on European painting from the 17th and 18th centuries. There are two rooms dedicated to British Portraiture dating back to Tudor times, in which famous portraits include Sarah Siddons as the Tragic Muse by Reynolds and Lucy Ebberton by Knapton. There are also several paintings by Thomas Gainsborough, featuring members of high society.

There is a room dedicated to the work of Flemish artists, in which significant paintings include the Rubens Venus and Mars and sketches and three portraits by Van Dyck. The Sainsbury Room is dedicated to French art, with Poussin and Claude featuring prominently. Dulwich Picture Gallery holds one of the largest collections of Poussin’s work in the country and The Triumph of David is a notable highlight. An innovative past exhibition, Twombly and Poussin: Arcadian Painters, compared the work of the French classicist painter to that of the 20th century American artist.

Artwork from other nationalities such as Italy, Spain and the Netherlands are displayed in different rooms. Rembrandt’s famous A Girl at a Window is hung at Dulwich Picture Gallery. In addition to the permanent collection, there are always exciting temporary exhibitions covering a wide range of disciplines from classical painting to modern photography.

Dulwich Picture Gallery is the perfect size to visit in a morning or afternoon. There are free Gallery Tours every weekend and the ArtPlay scheme provides a creative environment, in the form of drop-in workshops, for adults and children. Located in beautiful grounds, Dulwich Picture Gallery is one of London’s gems.

Dulwich Picture GallerySarah Brooks' review of the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London.4