Preparations for the next phase of a major, decade-long overhaul of essential services in Buckingham Palace has paved the way for a unique exhibition. Later this year, 65 paintings from the Royal Collection will be displayed at the Queen’s Gallery for a year-long run. This will be the first time the paintings, many of which are masterpieces and highlights of the Royal Collection, will have been made available for public viewing.
Titian, Rembrandt, Vermeer, van Dyck, and Canaletto are among the artists whose works will be on view in “Masterpieces from Buckingham Palace.” Usually, the works grace the walls of the Picture Gallery and a State Room of Buckingham Palace, only seen by those invited to the palace or visiting on a tour during the summer when the palace is opened. However, as pointed out by Desmond Shawe-Taylor, surveyor of the Queen’s pictures, viewing the masterpieces in Buckingham Palace and seeing the works displayed in a gallery setting are two very different experiences.
“You can see them reasonably well in the picture gallery but it is still a palace,” Shawe-Taylor told The Guardian. “[T]hey are double stacked in a sumptuous interior, most visitors would be going for the whole experience of the summer opening. Many people would not be saying: ‘Oh I’m really looking forward to seeing the Dutch genre painting.’”
One of only a few dozen works by Vermeer will make its way into the exhibition. The Music Lesson, an early 1660s work by the Dutch master, will be on view, allowing guests to have a “close up” encounter with the beloved painting. Rembrandt’s The Shipbuilder and His Wife (a 1633 painting long thought to be favoured by the Queen) and Agatha Bas (1641), a 1623 self-portrait by Rubens, Titian’s Madonna and Child with Tobias and The Angel (c. 1537) and Jacopo Sannazaro (c. 1514), and Canaletto’s The Bacino di San Marco on Ascension Day (c. 1733-1734) are among other gems to be included in “Masterpieces from Buckingham Palace.”
The paintings selected for the exhibition will explore each artist’s mastery in painting allowing them to capture life, light, and details in a profound manner. Realism, idealism, and atmosphere are other themes that run through “Masterpieces from Buckingham Palace.”
“In a way, we’re obliged to do it,” Shawe-Taylor said of the exhibition. “We’ve got to get them out of the picture gallery for the building work.” The paintings will be removed from their usual home while lead pipes, aging electrical fittings, and more building works are administered to Buckingham Palace.
“Masterpieces from Buckingham Palace” will be on view at The Queen’s Gallery from December 2020 through January 2022. Tickets range from £8 to £16.