A few weeks ago I managed to get down to London for a day where I finally visited Buckingham Palace. I’ve wanted to tour the iconic Palace for a few years now and I wasn’t disappointed.
I visited the palace with a Royal Day Out ticket which included access to the Royal Mews and Queen’s Gallery as well as the main attraction, the State Rooms.
Buckingham Palace State Rooms
This year’s special exhibition at the palace is entitled ‘A Royal Welcome’ and features highlights such as the Palace’s Ballroom set up for a State Banquet with the table dressed with tableware from the Grand Service in the Royal Collection. It was fascinating to see the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes to stage such events.
This Summer, visitors are also able to enter the State Rooms through the Grand Entrance, normally reserved for those who attend the Palace at the invitation of Her Majesty the Queen. Aside from the portraits, the most spectacular part of the tour for me, had to be the Grand Staircase and the interior of the Music Room.
Portrait Paintings from the Royal Collection
Naturally, my favourite part of the visit to the Palace was being able to see some of the Royal Collection up close. As photography is strictly prohibited in the State Rooms I’ve linked to the paintings that caught my eye on the Royal Collection site.
Highlights in the famous Picture Gallery included Sir Peter Paul Rubens Self Portrait (dated 1623) of which the luminosity of the skin tones and light highlights on the nose really caught my eye. Rembrandt’s Portrait of Jan Rijcksen and his Wife Griet Jans, also known as ‘The Shipbuilder and his Wife’ shows some beautiful detail especially in the furrows of Jan Rijcksen’s forehead and moustache.
However it is another Rembrandt portrait that proved to be my overall favourite in the collection…
Rembrandt’s Agatha Bas
Agatha Bas, painted in 1640 is captivating. Reproductions of the work in books and online simply don’t do this piece justice. The portrait shows a woman who is leaning on a frame which runs around the artwork, creating the illusion that she is stepping out of the canvas. This sense of movement is communicated further through the brilliant use of light in the work. Rembrandt has beautifully lit the sitter from the front with a particularly dark background.
The detail of the lace, jewellery and fan are stunning while the facial features and hair of the subject have been painted in a much softer and less defined manner.
A Royal Day Out
Three final highlights from the Royal Day Out:
- Perhaps one of the finest series of royal portraits are those which can be seen in The State Dining Room. On display are famous full length compositions by the brilliant Scottish painter Allan Ramsay.
- The East Gallery is home to the famous Anthony Van Dyk portrait of Charles I with M. de St Antoine, simply stunning.
- The staff at all of the royal venues were particularly welcoming and friendly.
As I was unable to take any photos in the State Rooms I have pinned the royal portraits mentioned in a board on my Pinterest account. Photography was permitted in the Queen’s Gallery however so I’ll put together a blog showing some of my favourite paintings on display there, soon.