In the early 1820s, English King George IV commissioned the architect John Nash to make some renovations to Buckingham Palace – most notably, to build the picture gallery, a home for George’s collection of fine paintings. Now, two centuries later, the gallery is due to be renovated. Its wiring and plumbing are both at least half a century old, and in need of replacement. The project will be extensive, and so the artwork kept there must be temporarily relocated. The collection will be housed in the Queen’s Gallery, which is nearby and most notably, open to the public.
According to Desmond Shawe-Taylor, surveyor of the queen’s pictures, this relocation will be the first time that George IV’s collection will be shown in a “gallery context” and available to the public as an exhibition, rather than just part of the decor.
The 65 paintings, over half of which were acquired personally by King George, include works by Rembrandt van Rijn, Anthony van Dyck, and Johannes Vermeer. Perhaps the most famous piece in the set is Christofano Allori’s “Judith with the Head of Holofernes,” inspired by one of the gorier Biblical histories.
The collection also includes Rembrandt’s “The Shipbuilder and his Wife.” That sweet double portrait, a captured moment between husband and wife, is said to be Elizabeth II’s favorite painting out of the thousands of paintings hung throughout the palace.
All in all, the Royal Collection has over 7000 paintings, nearly half a million art prints; 30,000 watercolors, drawings, and sketches; and thousands of photographs, sculptures, manuscripts, gems, and other artifacts. The entire collection is valued at over $13 billion and is overseen by the Royal Collection Trust.
The show of these paintings and other lesser works removed from the picture gallery, entitled “Masterpieces from Buckingham Palace,” will run from December 4, 2020 until January 31, 2022.