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A woodcut showing the Emperor Maximilian in a triumphal chariot.
This large woodcut, over 2 metres in length, was originally planned as part of a huge printed frieze. The work, undertaken by a team of designers and woodblock cutters, was to show a triumph
Highlights from the print collection

An introduction to the print collection of the Royal Collection

Royal Artists

Rupert, Prince Palatine of the Rhine (1619-82), The Great Executioner, 1658. Mezzotint, 62.6 x 43.7 cm. RCIN 503058©

There are over 7,500 drawings, watercolours and prints by royal artists in the Royal Collection, from the pioneering mezzotints of Prince Rupert, through the work of George III and his children, to the many works produced by Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and their family.

Rupert, Prince Palatine of the Rhine (1619–82) is the first royal artist of note, credited with introducing the mezzotint to England in 1660 and refining the technique with the invention of the mezzotint rocker. At least fifteen mezzotints are attributable to Rupert, and four of these can be found in the Royal Collection.

By the middle of the eighteenth century, a knowledge of drawing had become an accepted part of a gentleman's (and lady's) education, and George III (1738-1820) was instructed in architectural draughtsmanship and landscape drawing while still Prince of Wales. All of George III and Queen Charlotte's children also had drawing lessons as part of their education, and their daughters in particular spent much of their time engaged in artistic pursuits. The king continued to design and draw throughout his long life and 300 of his drawings, watercolours and architectural plans survive in the Royal Collection, together with over 1,000 works executed by his wife and children.

The daughters of George III were particularly proficient in the art of etching and were taught by professional printmakers. Their father’s collection of old master drawings was often used for inspiration, and the executed etchings after drawings by Leonardo da Vinci and Giulio Clovio, together with examples after contemporary artists such as Benjamin West. George III’s third daughter Princess Elizabeth (1770-1840), a gifted and enthusiastic artist, also produced engravings and lithographs, although few of these can be found in the Royal Collection.

The largest body of royal art however was produced by Queen Victoria and her family. Victoria (1819-1901) was a prolific artist and the Royal Collection holds over 4,000 of her drawings, watercolours, etchings and lithographs, spanning 64 years of her life from 1828 to 1892. After receiving her first drawing lesson from the artist Richard Westall at the age of eight, Queen Victoria went on to be tutored by leading artists of the day including William Leighton Leitch, Sir Edwin Landseer and Edward Lear. Queen Victoria's 56 surviving sketchbooks are a remarkable record of the places she visited, the people she met and the theatrical performances she had seen.

Victoria and her husband Prince Albert (1819-1861) learned to etch together as newlyweds, initially taught by George Hayter, and the couple etched a total of 93 plates during the 1840s. In 1846 the royal couple also tried their hands at lithography, under the supervision of Edwin Dalton, son-in-law of the miniaturist William Ross. These etchings and lithographs were privately printed and intended for personal enjoyment, occasionally being presented as gifts. There are over 800 impressions of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's etchings and lithographs in the Royal Collection.

Victoria and Albert were keen to pass their passion for drawing on to their nine children. All were given art lessons from an early age, and in 1852 Edward Corbould was engaged as their watercolour tutor, his light-hearted approach winning him the affection of his pupils. The children frequently presented their parents with works of art for birthdays and at Christmas, and the princesses continued drawing and painting throughout their lives. There are around 1,000 works by the children and grandchildren of Queen Victoria in the Royal Collection, and 300 works by Victoria's daughter-in-law, the future Queen Alexandra.

The Duke of Edinburgh and The Prince of Wales continue this tradition as keen amateur artists, though their works are privately held and not part of the Royal Collection.

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.