9 Masterpieces You Need To See In London (And It Won't Cost You a Thing)

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9 Masterpieces You Need To See In London (And It Won't Cost You a Thing)

This is a sponsored article on behalf of Travltalk.

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Calling all culture vultures! You're probably aware that London — packed as it is with museums, galleries, and graffiti — is home to many an artistic masterpiece. But did you know how many of them you can gawp at for free?

We've joined forces with Travltalk, the free, location-based app for savvy travellers, to reveal some of our favourites.

Self-Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria - National Gallery

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This recent acquisition by Italian baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi was quite the coup for the National Gallery. Discovered in 2017, Self Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria alludes to the torture this extraordinary 17th century female artist endured during her rapist's trial. Following a national tour, this powerful portrait joins the gallery's permanent collections — the 24th work by a woman to do so.

The Chandos Portrait - National Portrait Gallery

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Close your eyes, and picture William Shakespeare. Chances are, you're picturing something like this. No-one knows for sure whether The Chandos Portrait actually depicts the Bard of Avon, but the early 17th century portrait is thought to be the only picture of our national playwright painted from life.

Ophelia - Tate Britain

Moving on from Shakespeare to one of his most iconic characters. For fans of the pre-Raphaelite movement, Sir John Everett Millais' Ophelia is a must-visit. This dreamy oil painting depicts Ophelia drowning in the stream, having been driven to madness by the murder of her father at the hands of her lover, Hamlet.

Weeping Woman - Tate Modern

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Tate Britain's younger, cooler sibling houses Pablo Picasso's haunting Weeping Woman. It's modelled on his mistress, artist and photographer Dora Maar.

Traffic Light Tree - Canary Wharf

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Great art doesn't always hang on the walls of a gallery. This sculpture by Pierre Vivant, which features 75 sets of traffic lights, sits at the centre of a humble roundabout near Blackwall DLR.

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Admiring great works of art is way better when you've got a friend in tow. And, if you're visiting the city solo, Travltalk can help you find one. The app connects tourists who share similar itineraries, allowing them to become travel buddies, as well as split costs, and buy or sell handy items (hellooo half price power adaptor).  

All you have to do is set your location, then swipe through the cards created by travellers nearby until something catches your eye — whether that's someone offering to split an Airbnb, or simply looking for another London newbie to admire Van Gogh's Sunflowers with.

Can't find what you're looking for? Create your own card and wait for the responses to roll in. Once you've found the right fit, you can check out your fellow traveller's profile for peace of mind before smashing that 'chat' button and arranging to meet. Basically, it's Tinder for travellers — but with wanderlust, instead of the boring old carnal kind.

Intrigued? Download the iOS app here, and the Android version here.

Armada Portrait - Queen's House

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Painted in 1588, this portrait of Elizabeth I of England by an unknown artist was subject to painstaking restoration work before it went on display at Queen's House in 2017. Thought to have belonged to Sir Francis Drake, the historic work commemorates England's victory over the Spanish Armada.

Falling Shopper - Mayfair

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From sign-wielding rats to a designated graffiti area, work by one of the world's most celebrated yet elusive street artists is doodled all over London. The 'Falling Shopper' is one of his best preserved works in the capital, owing to the fact it's located above street level.

Self-Portrait With Two Circles - Kenwood

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This self-portrait by Rembrandt hangs at former stately home Kenwood House on Hampstead Heath. While the Dutch Master painted over 40 self portraits during his lifetime, this late example is often cited as one of the greatest paintings of all time.

Single Form - Battersea Park

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Just south of the boating lake in Battersea Park, you'll find a hulking great bronze sculpture by pioneering modernist, Barbara Hepworth. The 10 foot sculpture was commissioned as a memorial to the UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld, who died in a plane crash in 1961. You can find other pieces by the legendary sculptor on Hampstead Heath and on the side of John Lewis on Oxford Street (yep, really).

Now that you're all clued up on London's art scene, it's time to get the rest of your thrifty trip sorted with Travltalk. Click here to download the app.

Last Updated 01 July 2019