It’s hard to pick a favourite at Prince and Patron, Buckingham Palace, an exhibition marking the 70th birthday of His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales. The 100 works which have been stuffed into the Palace’s Ball Supper Room were personally chosen by the Prince from the Royal Collection, the result of which is a cosy, intimate gallery of pieces close to his heart. The exhibition is in support of three of the Prince’s charities: The Royal Drawing School, Turquoise Mountain and the Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts.
I suppose one should start with the showstopper piece. It’s an eighteenth-century painting of Johan Joseph Zoffany’s The Tribuna of the Uffizi. Queen Charlotte commissioned the German painter to capture some of the Grand Duke of Tuscany’s works in his Florentine Uffizi Palace. It’s an orgy of masterpieces poured onto a canvas, with a crowd of English “connoisseurs” on their original gap year – the Grand Tour.
The Tribuna of the Uffizi took a whopping five years to complete, but the Queen took an instant dislike to it According to diarist, Joseph Farington, “The Queen would not suffer the picture to be placed in any of her apartments.” These days, Zoffany’s Italian, erotically-charged Uffizi normally hangs next to his sombre rendering of London’s art aficionados: The Academicians.
The Ball Supper Room has been dressed with family photos, decorative objects, vases, lamps and books, giving a flavour of the interiors in the Prince’s residences. A previously unseen photo of Prince Charles and Prince William with grandson Prince George sits on the table, together with a miniature portrait of The Queen Mother.
Another table is dressed much like it would be in one of the Prince’s residences: a framed photo of The Duchess of Cornwall, together with a selection of books including the Prince’s book, Harmony, A New Way of Looking at Our World.
The Prince said of this painting of his grandmother: “I felt it brilliantly captured her likeness and, above all, reminds me of the essence of her personality. I admire it often when in residence at Clarence House.” The oil sketch by Michael Noakes was a study for a painting of the Silver Wedding Anniversary of Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh in 1972. The Queen Mother wears Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee Brooch.
Michael Noakes was one of the Royal Family’s favourite portrait painters, capturing the Queen several times over the 20 hours he spent in her company.
Napoleon Bonaparte’s hooded cloak, made of wool, silk and silver thread, was taken from the Emperor’s carriage just after he suffered defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. It was presented to the future George IV by Field Marshal Blücher, who fought with the Duke of Wellington.
The first official double portrait of Prince William and Prince Harry was commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery in 2009. These preparatory oil sketches show Their Royal Highnesses in Household Cavalry Blues and Royals regimental dress. It’s the first time these oils been seen in public – they usually hang at Highgrove.
It may be hard to choose a favourite, but this is it: an intimate coupling of Queen Victoria’s hands with those of her Prince. It was painted by the German artist Franz Xaver Winterhalter, a fashionable court painter who composed 120 works for the Royal Family. Look for Winterhalter’s famous portrait of The Royal Family in 1846, just outside the Ball Supper Room at Buckingham Palace.
The Linked Hands sit under the ethereal oil on canvas, A Study of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert by Sir Edwin Landseer (1841). The sketch may have been an earlier iteration of Windsor Castle in Modern Times, also in the Royal Collection. The Study was presented to Queen Victoria in 1874 by Landseer’s family after his death.
Prince and Patron is on until Sunday 30 September 2018. The price of the special exhibition is included in a ticket for the Summer Opening of the State Rooms.
On Saturday, 4 and Sunday, 5 August, a two-day Family Festival at Buckingham Palace, the Royal Mews and The Queen’s Gallery will be packed with drop-in activities for children, from arts and crafts activities and dance workshops to storytelling sessions and dressing up opportunities. In the Palace’s Family Pavilion, activities are inspired by Turquoise Mountain, one of the three charities founded by HRH The Prince of Wales that have contributed works of art to Prince & Patron. Turquoise Mountain is based in Afghanistan, where kite flying is a famous children’s pastime, and children will have the opportunity to create and decorate their own colourful kites to take home and fly.
For more information, go to the Royal Trust Collection Website.
Feature Image: The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall view the Prince and Patron exhibition (Royal Collection Trust).
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