Masterpieces from Buckingham Palace will bring together more than 30 spectacular works by artists such as Rembrandt, Rubens, Claude, Artemisia Gentileschi and Van Dyck to be enjoyed close-up by audiences in Edinburgh from March 2022.
The exhibition provides a unique opportunity to view these world-renowned paintings afresh in a modern gallery setting, away from the historic interior of the Picture Gallery at Buckingham Palace, where they can usually be seen as part of the annual Summer Opening of the State Rooms.
The paintings will be arranged by school, beginning with a group of pictures created in Italy between 1530 and 1660, including both figurative subjects and landscapes. Several Italian works feature idealised female figures derived from the study of antique sculpture. These include Guido Reni’s Cleopatra with the Asp, 1628, and Parmigianino’s Pallas Athene, 1535,.
Two atmospheric landscapes painted in Italy will be on display in Scotland for the first time with Claude Lorrain’s A View of the Campagna from Tivoli, 1645 and Gaspard Dughet’s Seascape with Jonah and the Whale, 1653–4 being part of the collection.
The exhibition will also contain a series of works created in the Low Countries between 1630 and 1680, the heyday of the so-called Dutch Golden Age. Scenes of everyday life, such as the leisurely card game depicted in Pieter de Hooch’s Cardplayers in a Sunlit Room, 1658, are imbued with an arresting realism through the artists’ command of perspective, colour and detail.
Artists from the Low Countries also produced works belonging to the more traditionally prestigious branches of art, such as narrative paintings and ambitious landscapes, often larger in scale.
The subjects of Dutch and Flemish portraits exude character and vitality, often achieved through the artists’ innovative handling of paint. In Rembrandt’s A Rabbi with a Cap, 1635, one of four works by the artist in the exhibition, Rembrandt uses the stick end of his paintbrush to scratch fine lines into wet paint, evoking the ageing man’s wispy beard.
More than two thirds of the paintings in the exhibition were acquired by George IV, one of history’s most extravagant monarchs and a prolific collector of art. 2022 will mark the bicentenary of George IV’s visit to the Palace of Holyroodhouse in 1822. This was the first visit of a reigning monarch to Scotland for nearly two centuries and involved elaborate pageants organised by Sir Walter Scott. A series of talks and activities will take place at the Palace in August 2022 to bring this extraordinary event to life for visitors.
The Royal Collection is among the largest and most important art collections in the world, and one of the last great European royal collections to remain intact. It comprises almost all aspects of the fine and decorative arts, and is spread among some 15 royal residences and former residences across the UK, most of which are regularly open to the public.
Masterpieces from Buckingham Palace is at The Queen’s Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse, 25 March – 25 September 2022.