Search results

Start typing

This exhibition is in the past. View our current exhibitions.

The Exhibition

The Picture Gallery, Buckingham Palace©

Masterpieces from the Royal Collection have been displayed in Buckingham Palace since the residence was acquired by George III and Queen Charlotte in 1762. The painting displays were reinvented during the reign of their son, George IV, who commissioned the architect John Nash to renovate the palace in the 1820s. A Picture Gallery was included to display the monarch’s exceptional collection of paintings. Since then, the Picture Gallery has remained the focus for some of the most treasured Italian, Dutch and Flemish paintings from the Royal Collection.

Palace displays are often imbued with dynastic meaning; the Picture Gallery was one of the few spaces intended for the enjoyment of art, pure and simple. It is in this same spirit that we have mounted this exhibition: for the first time the paintings are displayed together in modern gallery conditions, allowing us to look at them afresh.

The Picture Gallery, Buckingham Palace, 2019©

In general these paintings are securely dated and attributed; mostly we know which monarch bought them. We are providing this information here, but we are also asking a different, more subjective question – what makes them important? What do they have to offer? In the exhibition catalogue we have suggested qualities that were valued by the makers of these works and can still be appreciated today: the imitation of nature; the sensuous use of materials; the creation of beautiful design; and the ability to express human emotion. But are we missing something?

We hope that visitors to the exhibition will make up their own minds about what there is to enjoy in these paintings and find reasons to believe that they are still worth exploring.



Virtual Exhibition Tour



Exhibition Sections

Palma Giovane asked his friend and fellow artist Guido Reni to create a painting of Cleopatra, to be judged in competition with his own works and those of Niccolò Renieri and Guercino. The painting depicts the final moments of Cleopatra, as she suc
Italian Paintings

Works centred on female figures, 1520-1640

Van Dyck's double portraits usually explore such themes as kinship or friendship, but the present painting depicts two figures united by grief. The circumstances in which the painting was undertaken and the elegiac mood created by the subtle monochromatic
Van Dyck & Rembrandt

Two of the best-known master artists

The painting is an outstanding example of Jan Steen’s art in all respects. The elaborate treatment of subject-matter reveals a profusion of references that would have been readily recognisable to his contemporaries, attesting to the painter’s
The Low Countries

Dutch and Flemish genre scenes, 1630-1680

Claude (1604/5-82) was born in the Duchy of Lorraine, which was then an independent state within the Holy Roman Empire. He travelled to Italy in 1613 and studied with the Italian perspective specialist and landscape painter, Agostino Tassi. By 1627 he had
Landscape Paintings

The beauty and drama of nature, 1610-1680

The income from your ticket contributes directly to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. The aims of The Royal Collection Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection, and the promotion of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational activities.