A new hang in the Picture Gallery at Buckingham Palace – Visitors to Buckingham Palace this summer will see a new selection of some of the most famous paintings in the Royal Collection, following a re-hang of the Palace’s Picture Gallery.

One of the 19 State Rooms, the Picture Gallery has traditionally been home to many of the most beautiful and well-known paintings in the Royal Collection. 

It was created by the architect John Nash as a space for George IV to display his magnificent collection, although the King died before his plans were realised. 

Some 30 years later, Prince Albert, consort of Queen Victoria, revived the idea and oversaw an arrangement of the finest Dutch, Flemish and French paintings collected by George IV.

Today the display in the Picture Gallery is changed on a regular basis, as works are lent by The Queen to exhibitions around the world or are shown at The Queen’s Galleries in London or Edinburgh.

The new hang includes paintings by Canaletto, self-portraits by Rembrandt and Rubens, and a selection of Italian Baroque masterpieces usually on display at Hampton Court Palace.

Highlights include:

Self-portrait as an Allegory of Painting (1638-9) by Artemisia Gentileschi
The female artist Artemisia Gentileschi came to England from Italy to help her father, Orazio Gentileschi, who was employed by Charles I.

She took the opportunity to present this self-portrait to the King, setting herself in direct competition with the great male artists of her day.

The Calling of Saints Peter and Andrew (c.1602-4) by Caravaggio
This work is typical of the artist’s dramatic style.

Unlike more traditional interpretations of the subject, which are usually set on the seashore, this painting has only the shimmering fish in St Peter’s hand to indicate the religious story being told.

The figures of Christ, Peter and Andrew are set against a plain dark background, highlighted with Caravaggio’s trademark chiaroscuro (light out of the darkness) effect.

An Allegory of Truth and Time (c.1584-5) by Annibale Carracci
This painting by the celebrated Baroque master is full of complex symbolism. 

The winged figure of Time brings his daughter, Truth, from the depths of a well. Truth looks in a mirror and tramples two-faced Deceit under her feet. 

The figures of Happiness and Happy Endings signal the moral lesson of the painting, ‘all’s well that ends well’.

The State Rooms at Buckingham Palace are open until 29 September 2013.

Find out about this year’s special exhibition at the Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace, The Queen’s Coronation 1953.

Fashionable world of the Tudors and Stuarts revealed

A diamond ring given by Charles I to his 19-year-old wife, the armour of a fashion-conscious 13-year-old boy who should have been king,

and the diamond-encrusted box in which a queen kept her face patches are among the highlights of a new exhibition at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace.

Opening on Friday, 10 May 2013, In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion provides an insight into the world of the rich and famous of the 16th and 17th centuries.

The exhibition includes over 60 portraits from the Royal Collection, as well as rare surviving contemporary examples of clothing and accessories.

A number of works go on display for the first time.

Just as today, the fashion-conscious Tudors and Stuarts copied the styles of those they admired.

In 1666, Charles II announced that he was to introduce a new fashion for men – a long vest worn under a coat, instead of a short doublet and cloak.

The King is seen wearing this new coat in the painting Charles II presented with a pineapple, c.1675.

The style, which eventually became the three-piece suit, spread so quickly that just three weeks after the fashion was introduced, the diarist Samuel Pepys was wearing his own version.

In the Tudor and Stuart periods, even armour followed fashion.

The ornate set belonging to the 13-year-old Henry, Prince of Wales (c.1607) was designed to echo the full breeches and V-shaped doublets of the day.

The armour was a gift from a French nobleman and a statement of great extravagance, particularly since the young Prince would soon have outgrown it.

Heir to the English and Scottish thrones, Henry died of typhoid fever at the age of 18, and his younger brother succeeded him as the ill-fated Charles I.

Other works on display include a gold and diamond signet ring given to a young Henrietta Maria Queen by her husband Charles I in around 1628, three years after their marriage, and Mary II’s patch box made of enamelled gold set with diamonds.

In the 17th century, black fabric patches were stuck to the face to emphasise the creamy white skin of the leisured class and to conceal blemishes.

They were applied using saliva or adhesive and produced in a variety of shapes, from crescents and flowers to animals.

Exhibition curator Anna Reynolds said, ‘The exhibition presents the opportunity to explore the fashions of the Tudor and Stuart period through art.

Fashion was hugely important to court life and entry to the “inner circle” was largely driven by personal appearance.

The rich and powerful were the trend-setters of the age and used clothing to send out messages about their taste and status.’

Clarence House re-opens in 2013

Clarence House, the official London residence of their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Harry, will re-open from 1 August – 1 September 2013.

The Prince of Wales is the seventh royal occupant of the House and uses it to receive visitors from the United Kingdom and overseas, and for official dinners, receptions and meetings.

Clarence House was also home to Her Majesty The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh from 1949 to 1952, and to Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother for half a century, until her death in 2002.

On 29 April 2011, Prince William drove The Duchess of Cambridge to Clarence House in Prince Charles’s specially-decorated Aston Martin Volante sports car following their wedding reception at Buckingham Palace.

Olympic events taking place on the Mall had meant that it was not possible to open Clarence House in 2012.