Thursday, May 16, 2024

New exhibit at the King's Gallery: Royal Portraits: A Century of Photography


@Lord Snowdon/Camera Press/Royal Collection Trust

The above photo was taken in 1964 soon after the birth of Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones, 2nd and youngest child of Princess Margaret and the Earl of Snowdon.  

Lord Snowdon took the previously unpublished photograph to give to Sir John Peel, the royal obstetrician, who delivered all four of the 1964 royal babies between February 29 and May 1.

In this photo:  Princess Alexandra (with James Ogilvy), Queen Elizabeth II (Prince Edward),  Duchess of Kent (Lady Helen Windsor) and Princess Margaret (Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones)

"The art galleries formerly known as The Queen’s Galleries in London and Edinburgh are to reopen as The King’s Galleries with the arrival of their new exhibitions this spring.

The two Galleries at Buckingham Palace and the Palace of Holyroodhouse show changing exhibitions of works of art from the Royal Collection, with the aim of increasing public access to one of the largest and most important art collections in the world. Since 2002, when the buildings were opened in their current form, they have welcomed almost five million visitors.

At The King’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, the summer exhibition Royal Portraits: A Century of Photography will chart the evolution of royal portrait photography from the 1920s to the present day, revealing the stories behind some of the most celebrated photographs ever taken of the Royal Family. From November, Drawing the Italian Renaissance will explore the diversity and accomplishment of drawing across Italy during this revolutionary period, through works by artists including Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael and Titian.

Following a successful run in London, Style & Society: Dressing the Georgians will be the first exhibition to open at The King’s Gallery in Edinburgh following its 18-month closure for essential maintenance work. Exploring life in Georgian Britain through the fashions of the day, it will be the 40th exhibition to be held in the Gallery since it was opened as a space to share a wider variety of works from the Royal Collection in Scotland.

As part of the organisation’s charitable aim to ensure that as many people as possible can access and enjoy the Collection, Royal Collection Trust is proud to launch a new scheme of £1 tickets for exhibitions at The King’s Galleries in 2024, available to those receiving Universal Credit and other named benefits.

In addition to £1 tickets, The King’s Galleries will continue to offer a range of concessionary rates, while visitors who purchase standard tickets directly from Royal Collection Trust can convert them into a 1-Year Pass, allowing free re-entry for 12 months.

Royal Portraits: A Century of Photography

The King’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace                                                  

17 May – 6 October 2024

For centuries, portraiture has played a vital role in shaping the public’s perception of the Royal Family. Over the past 100 years, no artistic medium has had a greater impact on the royal image than photography.

Royal Portraits: A Century of Photography will chart the evolution of royal portrait photography from the 1920s to the present day, bringing together more than 150 photographic prints, proofs and documents from the Royal Collection and the Royal Archives. The photographs presented in the exhibition will be vintage prints – the original works produced by the photographer, most of which have never been on public display.

The works on show will demonstrate how the Royal Family has harnessed the power of photography to project both the grandeur and tradition of monarchy, and at times an unprecedented sense of intimacy and relatability. The exhibition will examine the changing status of photography as an art form and consider the cultural, artistic, and technological shifts that influenced the work of the most celebrated royal photographers, from Cecil Beaton and Dorothy Wilding to Annie Leibovitz and Rankin.

Archival documents and unreleased proofs will shed light on the behind-the-scenes process of commissioning, selecting and retouching royal portraits. From photographers’ handwritten annotations to never-before-seen correspondence with members of the Royal Family and their staff, these materials will reveal the stories behind some of the most enduring photographs ever taken of the Royal Family.

The exhibition will open with the 1920s and 30s, the golden age of the society photographer. Post-war prosperity and technological advances led to a boom in photographic studios, and members of the British and European Royal Families were among the ‘Bright Young Things’ eager to be captured on camera. Many of the new studios were operated by women, and female photographers such as Dorothy Wilding and Madame Yevonde were among those experimenting with a bolder, more modern aesthetic.

In the mid-20th century, no royal photographer had a greater impact on shaping the monarchy’s public image than Cecil Beaton. The exhibition will present some of Beaton’s most memorable photographs, taken over six decades. These include Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother’s famed 1939 shoot in the Buckingham Palace Gardens, dressed in her ‘White Wardrobe’ by Norman Hartnell, and Beaton’s original Coronation portraits of Queen Elizabeth II – arguably the most prestigious photography commission of the century. 

Close relationships between royal sitters and photographers will unfold throughout the exhibition, seen most clearly through the lens of Lord Snowdon (born Antony Armstrong-Jones). One of the most sought-after photographers of the 1950s, Snowdon’s unpretentious style soon attracted the attention of the Royal Family, and he became a member of the family himself when he married Princess Margaret in 1960. His remarkably intimate portraits of the Princess, taken both before and during their marriage, hint at the depths of trust and collaboration between them.

The exhibition’s final room will explore the innovations in digital and colour photography that revolutionised the medium between the 1980s and the 2020s. During this period, photography came to be recognised as an art form in its own right, and the perception of the role of the photographer shifted from image-making craftsperson to celebrated artist. From Andy Warhol’s diamond-dust-sprinkled screenprint of Queen Elizabeth II to famed photographs by Rankin, David Bailey, Nick Knight, Hugo Burnand, Annie Leibovitz and more, the bold and colourful works in this room will demonstrate the extraordinary variety, power and at times playfulness of royal portrait photography over the past four decades.

Alessandro Nasini, curator of Royal Portraits: A Century of Photography, said: 'This is the first exhibition from the Royal Collection entirely dedicated to modern portrait photography, an artistic medium that has helped to shape how the world views the British monarchy. We are excited for visitors to discover the beauty and materiality of these original prints, many on display for the first time, and we hope they will also enjoy a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the creative process behind some of these iconic royal images.'"

1 comment:

Christina said...

I love the flooding of light, and life, seen in Lord Snowdon's photo of the four royal mothers and babies. Thanks for sharing all the info about The King's Galleries.