Selfies are modern. Well, up to a point. People have been making self portraits for as long as charcoal has been around. Turns out that the Queen has quite a collection of selfies and now 150 (the collection of miniatures counts as one!) of them are on display at the Queen’s Gallery. Well sort of, Portrait of the Artist is depictions of artists whether by themselves of by other artists.
Think of the walls of royal palaces and you tend to think of Old Masters staring down at you. Here the first image that you see is of Lucian Freud (don’t worry, there are plenty of Rembrandt and Rubens later), turn around and David Hockney looks out at you from a portrait that he made on his iPad.
Royals are not only painted but sometimes also paint others. I really liked these two pictures. One is by Edward Seago and shows the other by the Duke of Edinburgh. Both are sat on the deck of Brittania painting the pictures that we see.
Not every image seen in the exhibition is an original. These tiny frames contain a collection of 224 copies of artist self-portraits from the Uffizi Palace in Florence. They were commissioned by Lord Cowper who in turn presented them to George III. Much like buying a box of postcard reproductions today but much much more expensive.
Painting a self portrait is an excellent form of self-promotion. It shows off your skill with the brush, can knock years off your age, make you look distinguished or simply display your interests. Landseer is well known for his depictions of animals and chose to surround himself with dogs when he painted himself and entitle it ‘The Connosieurs’!
Entry to exhibitions at the Queen’s Gallery always includes an excellent audio guide which leads you round and delivers delightful background snippets of information at the pictures that you are seeing. Even better is, provided you have your ticket stamped on the way out, your ticket becomes a One Year Pass enabling you to see the three exhibitions that the gallery puts on each year as often as you like. On this occasion I was lucky enough to be invited along to a Bloggers Breakfast.
PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST
Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace Road
4 November 2016 – 17 April 2017
Open: Daily 10am – 5.30pm
Admission: Adults £10.30 concessions available