A special exhibition, George III and Queen Charlotte: Patronage, Collecting and Court Taste, is on view at the Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, from now until January 9, 2005.
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During his reign from 1760 to 1820, the king was an influential patron of art and science, a facet overshadowed by his image as the mad monarch who ‘lost America’. The exhibition's 500 objects comprise one of the finest groups of Georgian material ever assembled. It includes sculpture, rococo and neo-classical furniture, paintings, drawings, ceramics, silver and gold, jewellery, and clocks.
Art on display includes works by Raphael, Van Dyck, Carracci, Canaletto, Zoffany, and the American Benjamin West. George III ascended the throne in 1760 when he was 22 years old. His state portrait in his coronation robes is on display. Two weeks before his coronation he married Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburgh-Strelitz, and her portrait by Gainsborough, painted in 1781, is part of the exhibition.
Other royal portraits include Francis Cotes’ of two of the King’s sisters and Zoffany’s group painting of the Queen and two of her brothers. Queen Charlotte gave birth to 15 children, the six eldest shown in two other portraits by Zoffany. Another portrait shows two of the daughters.
Buckingham House (Palace) was home to this large family. The King’s passion for clocks was evident—every room in the house had at least one clock; several of the ornate ones are on display in the exhibition. Queen Charlotte’s fancy sedan chair and pieces of furniture from the royal collection are in the gallery rooms. The silver furniture is particularly resplendent.
Small personal items, groups of miniatures, and even examples of royal needlework can be viewed. Silver made for the Queen and fans used by family members add interest. Of special note is a selection of gems and jewels, coins and medals, and other objects relating to the King and Queen.
Gifts sent to the King from India, China, and New Zealand make up part of the collections. Selections from the magnificent dining silver commissioned during the King’s reign and pieces from four porcelain services add to the stunning array of objects.
Books and works of art on paper are located in the Chambers gallery section. Portraits including pastels by Jean-Etienne Liotard and Frances Cotes are here. Old master drawings acquired by the King include some by the greatest Italian artists from the 16th to the 18th centuries. There are examples of George III’s own architectural drawings and those of other architects.
Admission to the exhibition is £7.50 adults, £6 over-60s and students, £4 under 17s.
Location: The Queen’s Gallery is located beside Buckingham Palace. A gift shop is located on the main floor of the gallery.
Insider tip: This exhibition is well worth visiting. Allow two hours if you want to study the drawings and miniatures closely, an hour at a minimum.