Royal Art Collections are always stunning if overwhelming. Many have founded the national art collections of European nations (France, Austria and Spain come to mind). Not so here in the UK! The Queen has her very own art gallery attached to Buckingham Palace.
The Queen’s Gallery
The entrance is to the side of the Palace which is nice if you either want to avoid the throngs of tourists at the Gates or be one of them! The gallery only displays one carefully curated exhibition at a time. They must have loads to work with.
The exhibition I saw was ‘Portrait of the Artist’. It was a display of primarily self portraits of artists, or portraits of artists by fellow artists. It was very clever! And do I detect a whiff of inspiration from James Joyce in that title? The topic allows the curator to cross chronology and location very effectively.
This wonderful painting is the one they’ve used to promote the display. It is by one of my very favourite artists – Artemisia Gentileschi. Her father Orazio was the Court Painter in England for a short while and this piece likely entered the collection when she came to visit him. If you want to learn about a badass woman artist look her up! Her story does not disappoint.
Now, if you are a museum nerd like me you may know about the Uffizi’s semi-secret gallery of artists self-portraits. The gallery in Florence crosses the Arno on the famous Ponte Vecchio and was the private route the Medici’s took between work and home. You have to book a small tour to see it! WORTH IT.
Anyways, these miniature paintings are all of those self portraits hanging in the Medici’s old hallway! What an amazing piece.
Other than getting to see Gentileschi, my favourite part of the exhibition was the kids/ exploration room! It connects ways of seeing and presenting yourself like the pictures we just saw! It was fun and interactive. I just would have liked this stuff integrated with the actual exhibition itself.
I mean look at this sweet mirror I got to take a selfie in! Amazing. One funny thing about the Gallery is that tickets are on the more expensive side – 18GBP or so. BUT the ticket is valid for a year (if you don’t lose it or are a tourist). It’s an interesting take but most of their visitors are tourists. It’d be interesting to see how many people actually come back again.
Pros: Strong clear topic, not too big, great location (BUCKINGHAM PALACE!), busy shop, friendly staff, top quality collection, interesting interpretation, loads of places to sit, a FREE coat check
Cons: I’m not sure about this ticket business, it feels a little funny. Interactives would have been better integrated with the exhibition in my opinion. No cafe and the shop is more for the Palace than the museum. I wanted more postcards of the collection!