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Press release

Old Master paintings removed from the Picture Gallery at Buckingham Palace for the first time in almost 45 years in preparation for landmark exhibition

Release date: Sunday, 22 November 2020

Sir Peter Paul Rubens’ Self-Portrait, 1623, is removed from the walls of the Picture Gallery at Buckingham Palace in preparation for its installation in the exhibition Masterpieces from Buckingham Palace at The Queen’s Gallery.


Preparations are underway for the exhibition Masterpieces from Buckingham Palace, opening at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace on 4 December. The exhibition will see 65 paintings that usually hang in the Picture Gallery, one of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace, brought together in a gallery exhibition for the first time. The paintings are widely acknowledged to be among the highlights of the Royal Collection and include spectacular works by Titian, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Dyck and Canaletto.

The exhibition has been made possible by the removal of the paintings from the Picture Gallery to allow for essential works to take place as part of the Buckingham Palace Reservicing Programme. These works will include the replacement of electrics and pipework, some of which has not been updated since the 1940s.

A team of art handlers and conservators have spent four weeks carefully emptying the Picture Gallery of paintings and decorative arts from the Royal Collection. Old Master paintings have hung in the room since it was first created for George IV in the 1820s. While the display of paintings is occasionally refreshed, the Picture Gallery has not been entirely emptied of its contents since it was last redecorated in 1976. 

Broadcast-quality timelapse footage of removal of the paintings is available to download here:   

A 360-degree panorama of the Picture Gallery is available here:

A short film released by Buckingham Palace about the decant of the Picture Gallery and subsequent Reservicing works can be viewed here:

Images in the attached contact sheet are available from, or contact [email protected]

Masterpieces from Buckingham Palace is at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, 4 December 2020 – January 2022. Visitor information and tickets:, T. +44 (0)30 3123 7301. Advance booking is essential.

For further information about the Masterpieces from Buckingham Palace exhibition and the works of art in the Royal Collection, please contact the Royal Collection Trust Press Office, [email protected] or +44 (0)20 7839 1377.

For further information about the renovation works taking place in the Picture Gallery as part of the Buckingham Palace Reservicing Programme, please contact the Royal Communications Press Office at Buckingham Palace, +44 (0)20 7930 4832.


Contact sheet - BP Picture Gallery paintings decant