Your guide to London's culture and transport news and events taking place across the city.

Your guide to London's culture and transport news and events taking place across the city.

Exhibition: Royal Portraits: A Century of Photography

Location

The King's Gallery, Buckingham Palace,

Buckingham Palace, London,
SW1A 1AA

Dates

This exhibition runs from Fri, 17th May 2024 to Sun, 6th Oct 2024.

This exhibition has not opened yet. Will open on Fri, 17th May 2024

Cost: £19

Description

For centuries, portraiture has played a vital role in shaping the public’s perception of the Royal Family. Over the past 100 years, no artistic medium has had a greater impact on the royal image than photography.

Royal Portraits: A Century of Photography will chart the evolution of royal portrait photography from the 1920s to the present day, bringing together more than 150 photographic prints, proofs and documents from the Royal Collection and the Royal Archives. The photographs presented in the exhibition will be vintage prints – the original works produced by the photographer, most of which have never been on public display.

The works on show will demonstrate how the Royal Family has harnessed the power of photography to project both the grandeur and tradition of monarchy, and at times an unprecedented sense of intimacy and relatability. The exhibition will examine the changing status of photography as an art form and consider the cultural, artistic, and technological shifts that influenced the work of the most celebrated royal photographers, from Cecil Beaton and Dorothy Wilding to Annie Leibovitz and Rankin.

Archival documents and unreleased proofs will shed light on the behind-the-scenes process of commissioning, selecting and retouching royal portraits. From photographers’ handwritten annotations to never-before-seen correspondence with members of the Royal Family and their staff, these materials will reveal the stories behind some of the most enduring photographs ever taken of the Royal Family.

The exhibition will open with the 1920s and 30s, the golden age of the society photographer. Post-war prosperity and technological advances led to a boom in photographic studios, and members of the British and European Royal Families were among the ‘Bright Young Things’ eager to be captured on camera. Many of the new studios were operated by women, and female photographers such as Dorothy Wilding and Madame Yevonde were among those experimenting with a bolder, more modern aesthetic.

In the mid-20th century, no royal photographer had a greater impact on shaping the monarchy’s public image than Cecil Beaton. The exhibition will present some of Beaton’s most memorable photographs, taken over six decades. These include Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother’s famed 1939 shoot in the Buckingham Palace Gardens, dressed in her ‘White Wardrobe’ by Norman Hartnell, and Beaton’s original Coronation portraits of Queen Elizabeth II – arguably the most prestigious photography commission of the century.

Close relationships between royal sitters and photographers will unfold throughout the exhibition, seen most clearly through the lens of Lord Snowdon (born Antony Armstrong-Jones). One of the most sought-after photographers of the 1950s, Snowdon’s unpretentious style soon attracted the attention of the Royal Family, and he became a member of the family himself when he married Princess Margaret in 1960. His remarkably intimate portraits of the Princess, taken both before and during their marriage, hint at the depths of trust and collaboration between them.

The exhibition’s final room will explore the innovations in digital and colour photography that revolutionised the medium between the 1980s and the 2020s. During this period, photography came to be recognised as an art form in its own right, and the perception of the role of the photographer shifted from image-making craftsperson to celebrated artist. From Andy Warhol’s diamond-dust-sprinkled screenprint of Queen Elizabeth II to famed photographs by Rankin, David Bailey, Nick Knight, Annie Leibovitz and more, the bold and colourful works in this room will demonstrate the extraordinary variety, power and at times playfulness of royal portrait photography over the past four decades.


Contact and Booking Details

More information at this website.

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Disclaimer

The information and prices in this listing are presumed to be correct at the time of publishing, but please always check with the venue before making a special trip.

All images are supplied by the exhibition organiser.

This exhibition has not opened yet. Will open on Fri, 17th May 2024

This event runs over several days/weeks. Dates include:

May 2024

June 2024

July 2024

August 2024

September 2024

October 2024

Location

The King's Gallery, Buckingham Palace,

Buckingham Palace, London,
SW1A 1AA

Map
Map

 

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