BUCKINGHAM PALACE has been a family residence since 1835 when Queen Victoria moved into the palace from her confined childhood home, Kensington Palace. During the SUMMER OPENING to the palace, our visitors will meet many of the Queen’s family, on canvas and hanging on the walls. I wanted to post six of these portraits so when you are in the palace you don’t meet them for the first time. It would be fun for you to say AH, THERE IS ONE–AH, THERE IS ANOTHER ONE. Hopefully, these beautiful family portraits will be “old friends to you.” Let me introduce you to six family portraits, and then I will do a separate post for my favorite image: QUEEN ALEXANDRA in the White Drawing Room.
The first image is a portion of the very large CORONATION PORTRAIT of Queen Victoria. These narrative canvases record an important event in English history; this portrait captures a coronation which began an entirely new age.
The second image is the STATE PORTRAIT OF QUEEN VICTORIA. She is wearing the State Crown (notice the Stuart Sapphire in the front of the crown) and Parliament joins her in the distance. The Queen said when she was first Queen: I WILL BE GOOD. After George IV and William IV, these must have been reassuring words.
The third painting is Winterhalter’s portrait of the Royal Family with the Queen accompanied by the Prince Consort and the first five of her nine children. This massive painting highlights the glory of family life.
The fourth portrait is King George III, the last King of America. This king detested excessive shows of wealth and splendor. Rather, he preferred to be remembered as a family king dedicated to scholarship, farming, science and technology, fine paintings, and BOOKS. This beautiful portrait reflects the tastes of this scholarly King. I have great respect for King George III.
The fifth portrait is King George IV, a complete contrast to his father George III. This king loved splendor, ceremony, works of art, architecture, on and on–everything to the extreme. He was a man of excess who had lost the love of his people. BUT, he was Queen Victoria’s uncle. We will talk about that in a moment.
The sixth portrait is one of the grand portraits of CHARLES I by VanDyck, the court painter. There are several Van Dyck paintings in the Royal Collection, but this particular portrait is important because it is an attempt to create a ABSOLUTE MONARCH to match the French King, Louis XIV who was painted in this same pose by Rigaud. This portrait had been sold by Cromwell, but it was returned to James II after the Stuart’s return to the throne.
When you are walking through Buckingham Palace, you will walk up the Grand Staircase. Look about you, and you will see several royal portraits. Queen Victoria arranged these paintings in an attempt to send a message. During the Regency and then the death of Princess Charlotte, there was great confusion concerning the next sovereign. An 18-year-old young princess became Queen, and she is identifying who she is by family portraits. All those confusing and uncertain years are long past, but the beautiful portraits remain. Make friends with these magnficent images; they are such interesting personalities. You are about to visit BUCKINGHAM PALACE during a very special open house at the palace.