Culture Whisper on Art History UK
Best art tours in London: discover secret London treasures with Art History UK's boutique cultural tours
If you've been wanting to get to know London better and delve into those treasured secrets dotted around the capital, Art History UK is a smashing way to learn about art history for even the most clueless art lovers.
What is Art History UK?
Set up in 2009 by the savvy art expert Rose Balston, Art History UK specialises in public day and evening tours around the big smoke as well as private tours for corporate clients and networking groups, hen do and stag dos, and families wanting to discover London's history and art. But what makes this organisation so special is the spectacular level of knowledge from each guide, who inject a love for art history that you won't shake off lightly.
Evening Art Shots
For busy city types or curious Londoners, there are the Art Shots series - one hour after-work talks which give a wonderful taster of an area of art history or spot in the city with a few tipples beforehand. You'll have the opportunity to experience some of the cultural calendar's most exciting event, accompanied by an expert and often with some behind the scenes access. They cost £30 each and get cheaper the more shots you take. There's also frequently an informal dinner afterwards for those that want to compare arty notes or share a bite.
This season we recommend knocking back a taste of A Century of Style (25 February) to get behind the scenes of Vogue magazine's fashion shoots and enjoy some 280 prints of the legendary Condé Nast archive. If you are not satiated with feminine aesthetics by then, The Intimate World of Model and Artist (Friday 1 April) should give you plenty of opportunity to marvel at the curves of some of art history's most revered muses. Ruben's teenage wife's voluptuous body will naturally be part of the show, together with Degas' aerial dancers.
You can soak up more art historical gems with the more detailed Public Day Tours, organised over an afternoon during the weekend. This season particularly, be sure not to miss the organisation's special Valentine events, whether it be a tour of the sumptuously decadent Leighton House or a more historical introduction to the role of wives, courtesans, wedding and childbirth ceremonies during the Renaissance at the National Gallery. Featuring paintings by Van Eyck, Leonardo and Botticelli amongst others, this event will tie in perfectly with the V&A's blockbuster exhibition "Botticelli Reimagined".
Once Valentine Day is well out of sight, we recommend you take a tour (7 July) of some of the City's most impressive buildings. The tour will aim to specifically address the dialogue between traditionalist Sir Christopher Wren and his modern counterpart Richard Rogers, the City's sombre churches and the spaceshiplike quality of the Lloyd's Building. We've tried and tested this one for ourselves and discovered the city across the centuries via the expansive knowledge and passion of our Art History guide.
Even if you don't know your Damien Hirst from your Velazquez - Art History UK is a wonderful way to learn more about the art world in fantastic bite-sized chunks, filled with juicy stories and astounding expertise that won't overwhelm but entirely beguile.