Portrait of the Artist at The Queen’s Gallery
The new exhibition at The Queen’s Gallery, located in Buckingham Palace, consists of images of artists compiled solely from the Royal Collection Trust, the holdings belonging to the Royal Family’s various residences. It’s impressive to bring together 150 paintings, drawings and prints from the collections of monarchs as far removed as Charles I and HRH Elizabeth II. The result is a cohesive and insightful showcase, where every image feels well placed.
Portrait of the Artist opens, as might be expected, with a series of self-portraits, exploring how their creators present themselves in different contexts. Two drawings attributed to the Caracci brothers show young men experimenting with their own image; they gaze from the paper in a surprisingly modern and captivating way. Contrasting impressions of famous artists are also explored. An intimate self-study drawing by Reubens provides a compelling comparison with his more famous self-portrait in oil, which was completed as a gift for the young Charles I.
Although one might anticipate an exhibition about artist studies to focus mainly on self-depictions, the show actually diverges quickly to look at how they portray each other, or portray themselves obliquely through representations of archetypal painters such as Apelles from classical mythology.
Highlights here include a self-portrait by Artemisia Gentileschi, where she represents herself as the allegorical figure of painting. There’s also a drawing of Leonardo da Vinci by his pupil Francesco Melzi, considered to be the most reliable surviving image of the great master.
Portrait of the Artist is a well thought out exhibition that takes the viewer through a roster of famous and less well-known faces, while exploring some of the key themes that make portraiture important and relevant today. The fact that there are also some rarely seen gems from the Queen’s art collection make the display especially worth a visit.
Portrait of the Artist is at The Queen’s Gallery from 4th November 2016 until 19th April 2017, for further information or to book visit here.