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The Exhibition

George IV (1762–1830) had a lifelong fascination with art and architecture and formed one of the greatest collections of paintings and decorative arts in Europe.

The eldest child of George III and Queen Charlotte, George was clever and wilful, and railed against his parents’ authority. As a young man he became known for his mistresses, drinking and his dandyish clothes. Satirists issued prints which criticised his lifestyle, and his exploits were recounted with horror in newspapers. In 1811, when his father became unable to rule through mental illness, George was appointed Prince Regent. He became King on his father’s death in 1820. He was an unpopular monarch, whose lavish lifestyle was out of touch with a country suffering from economic hardship and political turmoil.

George’s collection of art furnished his residences, which themselves were masterpieces designed by leading architects. His carefully choreographed spectacles displayed the magnificence of monarchy, chief among them his coronation. George’s purchases remain some of the greatest works in the Royal Collection. His architectural vision created the palaces in London and Windsor still used today.

George IV

There were many images of George created throughout his life

Family and friends

George formed a large collection of portraits of those closest to him

Private pursuits

George's collections allow us to explore his personal interests

Napoleonic Wars

George became the figurehead of opposition to Napoleon

Carlton House

George's home for 40 years saw a sequence of colourful interiors, filled with masterpieces

Views of Carlton House

The appearance of the building was recorded in a series of watercolour views made shortly before its demolition

Brighton Pavilion, Windsor Castle & Buckingham Palace

George's other major architectural projects

The armoury

George IV’s collection of arms, armour and other militaria at Carlton House was renowned

Ceremonies of George IV's court

George shone when he appeared at state occasions


George used lavish acquisitions to support his public image

The Waterloo Chamber portraits

Sir Thomas Lawrence was commissioned to document the victors of the Battle of Waterloo