Amidst the giants of the National Gallery, the Tate(s), and the huge museum collections that London offers, you might not have heard of the Courtauld. About a half-mile up the strand from Trafalgar Square, set in grand rooms with a history of their own, this collection includes some beautiful pre- and post-Impressionist works that you can view in a quiet, unhurried environment. Because it is a small collection, and relatively unknown compared to it's bigger competitors, you can sit on a bench in front of a Gauguin nude or stand undisturbed for half an hour before Manet's A Bar at the Folies-Bergère. It's like being invited to someone's home, where you can close to the art and live with it for awhile. Such a find. You'll be glad you went. (And the cafe on the lower level offers decent cappuccino and pastries, too.)
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