Courtauld Gallery

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The Courtauld Gallery is home to the University of London’s Courtauld Institute of Art’s impressive collection that features paintings ranging from the old masters to post-impressionism with works by Cézanne, Michelangelo, Rembrandt and Turner.

The Courtauld Gallery is home to the University of London’s Courtauld Institute of Art’s impressive collection that features paintings ranging from the old masters to post-impressionism with works by Cézanne, Michelangelo, Rembrandt and Turner.

In November 2021, The Courtauld re-opened after a three-year £57 million refurbishment programme.

The Courtauld Gallery is housed inside Somerset House, a grand building originally built to house a number of government offices and learned societies.
The Courtauld Gallery is housed inside Somerset House, a grand building originally built to house a number of government offices and learned societies.

What to see at the Courtauld Gallery

Highlights include the Bar at the Folies-Bergère by Édouard Manet, the Theatre Box by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear by Vincent Van Gogh and Botticelli’s The Trinity With Saints.

A Bar at the Folies-Bergère (1882), Edouard Manet in the Courtauld Gallery, London
A Bar at the Folies-Bergère (1882), Edouard Manet

Although the gallery has a collection of over 26,000 works including 530 paintings (most of the collection consists of drawings and prints), it is considered a relatively small art museum.

Its manageable size, impressive collection and central location (it is right in the heart of London near Charing Cross station) make it a favourite of many visitors to London.

Temporary exhibitions at the Courtauld Gallery

The Courtauld Gallery also hosts a number of permanent exhibitions. Current and upcoming exhibitions include:

Frank Auerbach: The Charcoal Heads
This exhibition (until 27 May 2024) features large-scale charcoal drawings by Frank Auerbach, showcasing a series of hauntingly beautiful portrait heads. Created during his early post-war years in London, these drawings reveal Auerbach’s meticulous process. The textured and layered finished drawings, marked by the intensity of creation, depict vital and alive heads emerging from the darkness of charcoal. Auerbach’s works offer a profound reflection on the post-war era, with the exhibition marking the first comprehensive presentation of his extraordinary post-war drawings from the 1950s and early 1960s. The show includes paintings of the same sitters, emphasising the intertwined nature of Auerbach’s painting and drawing practices.

Roger Mayne: Youth
The Roger Mayne exhibition (14 June–1 September 2024) showcases around 50 photographs by British photographer Roger Mayne (1929–2014), known for his documentary images depicting the lives of young people in the 1950s and early 1960s. Self-taught and influential in establishing photography as an art form, Mayne focused on capturing the working-class communities of West London. The display emphasises Mayne’s central theme of portraying the energy and radicalism of post-war Britain through images of children at play and emerging teenage culture. The collection combines iconic street scenes of London with lesser-known intimate images of Mayne’s family in Dorset during the late 1960s and 70s, showcasing his radical empathy and desire for lasting photographic impact. The exhibition, exploring themes of growing up, childhood, adolescence and family, feels particularly poignant and timely in the context of Mayne’s post-war subjects entering their senior years and a new generation confronting various crises.

Monet and London: Views of the Thames
The Monet and London exhibition (27 September 2024–19 January 2025) reunites, for the first time in 120 years, a collection of Claude Monet’s paintings portraying London, including paintings of Charing Cross Bridge, Waterloo Bridge and the Houses of Parliament. While renowned for leading French Impressionism, Monet’s lesser-known works depict unique views of the Thames, showcasing evocative atmosphere, mysterious light and radiant colour. Created during three stays in London between 1899 and 1901, the series was initially presented in Paris in 1904. Despite Monet’s desire to exhibit them in London in 1905, the plans were unsuccessful, and the paintings have never been displayed in the UK until now.

Visiting the Courtauld Gallery

The Courtauld Gallery is located in Somerset House on the Strand, not far from Charing Cross railway station and Covent Garden. Temple tube station is a five-minute walk from here and Covent Garden and Charing Cross railway station are around a 10-minutes walk from the gallery.

Pricing is cheaper if you visit on a weekday and admission is free of charge with a London Pass or a National Art Pass or if you are aged 18 or under.

The gallery has its own cafe plus a gift shop, although its location in the heart of London means that there are plenty of other options for eating and drinking nearby.

It is a relatively small museum with a handful of very famous paintings and most people spend between one and two hours here.

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Amenities
  • Wheelchair access
  • Cafe/restaurant

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