Tate Britain is getting ready for a new exhibition of the Impressionists, featuring Monet, Tissot, Pissarro and the rest. It opens on November 2nd, and The Z Review will report. However we took a walk across to Pimlico this afternoon to look at what freebies are available in the most famous Tate of them all.

The new Tate Britain features a subterranean maze of cloakrooms, toilets, cafes and virtually anything that has nothing to do with the art. We also suffered the now-ubiquitous open-your-bag search at the entrance. The portly gentlemen in high-viz jackets really spoil the mood. And why high-viz? They’re inside the fucking building.

Eventually, debagged and utterly discombobulated, we staggered into a room that actually contained paintings. Most of it was meh, to be honest. It’s no secret that Tate Modern is our most favourite Tate, now with a monumental new wing that allows you to peek inside the bedrooms of the millionnaire shag orgies happening day and night in the apartments next door. We only do this because we know how much they like it.

So, eventually, and as much to our surprise as yours, we happened on some paintings. Some very good ones. The hall we had staggered into was the British bit.

I didn’t know I was looking at a Canaletto until I squinted at the label alongside, but I was. And there was a bigger one to its right. I was looking at one of the most famous buildings on London’s tourist trail: Horse Guards. Yes, the bit where the soldiers in silly hats stomp around every morning. But this was a picture of half of Horse Guards, while it was being built.

Both paintings feature the pond across the road in St. James’s Park, which is also still there. So it becomes very easy to overlay your own memories of Horse Guards onto these paintings.

There is such a history to this gallery, we’ve chosen to single out just two of the thousands of pictures you can see for free on any day of the week. The Impressionists is not free, and is likely going to be very busy, so it is worth booking your ticket now.

The Old Horse Guards from St James’s Park c.1749 Canaletto


The Current Horse Guards Being Built

About Author

P. C. Dettmann is the London bureau chief and contributing editor at The Z Review. Born in Hull, living in London, he is the author of Locksley: A New Spy, Ernest Zevon, and as Paul Charles, From Beyond Belief and Kicking Tin. He indulges his love of espionage by running spy tours for Airbnb.

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