Art inspired by literature, theatre, and music: Guildhall Art Gallery set to reopen with new exhibition

Guildhall Art Gallery & London’s Roman Amphitheatre will reopen on 8 April with a brand-new exhibition.

Inspired! draws from the art gallery’s permanent collections and will examine ways in which visual artists have taken inspiration from other art forms – poetry, plays, novels, and music.

The exhibition will include paintings, drawings and sculptures which show the variety of inspirations and influences for artists from the 17th to the 19th century, including portraits of writers, actors, composers, and musicians.

The Gallery has also acquired an early example of UK artist David Hepher’s work, called ‘Camberwell Flats by Night’. He is best known for his paintings of buildings, especially tower blocks.

The Guildhall Art Gallery & London’s Roman Amphitheatre closed temporarily for essential maintenance work in December.

Specialists updated its hundreds of sprinklers while each of its hundreds of art works were wrapped for protection and moved into storage.

Established in 1886, the Gallery holds works of art dating from 1670 to the present day, including 17th-century portraits, Pre-Raphaelite masterpieces, and an extensive range of paintings documenting London's history.

The remains of London’s Roman Amphitheatre, which dates from AD70, have been preserved and are in the basement of the art gallery. In Roman times it was used for gladiator fights, wild animal hunts and even executions.

Abandoned in mid-4th century, the site lay derelict for hundreds of years. In the 11th century, the area was reoccupied and by the 12th century, Guildhall was built next to it.

Chair of the City of London Corporation’s Culture, Heritage and Libraries Committee, Wendy Hyde, said:

“We are delighted that this much-loved London gallery will reopen with a thrilling new exhibition.

“It’s a unique and must-see attraction housing an exceptional collection. The Roman Amphitheatre remains, in the basement of the gallery, are a protected historic monument.

“Unique and fascinating cultural attractions like these are part of the City’s DNA.

“The energy in the Square Mile is now buzzing as our recovery from the pandemic continues at pace.”

The City Corporation, which owns and manages Guildhall Art Gallery, is the fourth largest funder of heritage and cultural activities in the UK and invests over £130m every year.

In partnership with the Barbican, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London Symphony Orchestra, and Museum of London, the City Corporation is leading the development of Culture Mile between Farringdon and Moorgate, a multi-million-pound initiative to create a new cultural and creative destination for London.


Notes for Editors:

About the City of London Corporation:

The City of London Corporation, which owns and manages Guildhall Art Gallery, is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK. 

For media enquiries contact:

Matthew Cooper, Culture Communications Officer: COVID-19, City of London Corporation