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Engraved Royal Portraits

A unique collection of over 22,000 prints

Detail from a portrait of William Prince of Orange

Did you know the Royal Collection has over 22,000 prints of royal sitters throughout history?

The prints, known as the Engraved Royal Portraits, are mostly portraits of European royalty, but also feature rulers from the Americas, Africa, and Asia. The Engraved Royal Portraits are arranged by nationally, dynasty, and sitter in 66 large volumes and 30 portfolios, housed in the Print Room at Windsor Castle.

These portraits have been collected continuously over the last three centuries, with George III and Queen Victoria being the most prolific purchasers. There are so many prints that this series of portraits represents the single largest group of works on paper in the Royal Collection. Furthermore, it represents a unique collection in Britain as a series of royal portraits amassed by royal collectors. The collection is particularly rich in British and German prints, with portraits ranging from incredible works of art and craftsmanship to more prosaic popular prints.

Woodcut of Elizabeth I, the frontispiece from John Case's 'Sphaera Civitatis'©

All of the printmaking techniques are represented: rare early woodcuts from Venice and Germany; extraordinary engravings and etchings from France, the Netherlands, Italy, and beyond; mezzotints by the British masters of the medium; and lithographs from Germany and Britain capturing the development of new forms of printing in the nineteenth century.

A project to update the records for this extraordinary collection was begun in 2013. Since then over 14,000 prints have been catalogued including all of the sitters from Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Hungary, Denmark, Austria, Bohemia and Poland, with cataloguing of the French sitters underway.

Below are some of the rare, remarkable, and fascinating portraits from this collection.  The whole resource is available to search through our Collection Online.

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.