Some of the finest paintings in the country, by renowned artists like Rembrandt, Vermeer and Canaletto, are to go on display in a landmark exhibition.
The works normally hang in the State Rooms of Buckingham Palace but have been brought together as the Queen’s official residence is undergoing a £369 million reservicing programme.
The 65 paintings are highlights from the Royal Collection and also include works by Titian, Rubens and Van Dyck, which are usually on show in the palace’s Picture Gallery where presidents, prime ministers and other leading figures are entertained by the royal family.
Tim Knox, director of the Royal Collection, speaking from the Queen’s Gallery in central London where the exhibition is being staged, said: “We’re extremely privileged to care for a truly extraordinary collection of Dutch, Flemish and Italian Old Master paintings on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen.
“This exhibition brings together 65 of the most celebrated works that normally live next door in the picture gallery at Buckingham Palace.”
He added: “This exhibition has been made possible by the removal of the pictures from the picture gallery to prepare for the next phase of the reservicing project.
“This major 10-year project is overhauling the palace’s essential services, including lead pipes, ageing electrical wiring, and boilers, to ensure the building is fit for the future as the official residence of the sovereign, and as a national asset for generations to come.”
The exhibition – Masterpieces From Buckingham Palace – opens on Friday and is organised by school, with groupings of Italian, Dutch and Flemish paintings each containing some of the finest examples ever produced.
Among the highlights are Johannes Vermeer’s The Music Lesson, painted in the early 1660s, and portraits by fellow Dutch artists Rembrandt van Rijn and Frans Hals who imbued their sitters with character, vitality and movement, often achieved through their skilful and innovative handling of paint.
Hals’ serrated brushstrokes on the sleeve of his Portrait Of A Man, from 1630, convey a sense of movement by creating the shimmering effect of light on black satin.
And Rembrandt uses fine lines scratched with the back of a brush to etch time into the wrinkled skin of Griet Jans and Jan Rijcksen in his The Shipbuilder And His Wife, created in 1633.
– The Masterpieces From Buckingham Palace exhibition takes place at The Queen’s Gallery in London from December 2020 to February 2022