Behind the Royal Image

The Art of Monarchy Episode 1 of 8
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BBC Arts Editor, Will Gompertz, begins an 8-part exploration of almost one thousand years of the British Monarchy as told through the objects of art they collected. In a weekly journey that takes him from the wilds of Balmoral in Scotland to the isolation of Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, from the State Rooms in Buckingham Palace to the Royal Library at Windsor Castle, he'll be selecting choice items from the Royal Collection to see what they betray about the art of statecraft and a successful reign.

In each programme historians, academics and Royal Collection curators shed light on the mystery of kingship and the importance of faith, war, magnificence, progress and the people in the minds of monarchs.

He begins his investigations by looking at some of the most personal royal images in the Collection to see what insights they give us into the lasting power of the monarchy. From the very earliest royal photographs to the revealing portrait of a seductive Victoria, and from the forgotten son of Henry VIII to the manipulated images of George III, Will asks how important understanding their own image has been to the longevity of our Kings and Queens.

Producer: Paul Kobrak.

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30 minutes

Last on

Sat 11 Feb 2012 10:30

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An intimate portrait of Queen Victoria

An intimate portrait of Queen Victoria

This portrait by Franz Xaver Winterhalter (1805-1873) was commissioned by the young Queen Victoria as a surprise gift to her husband, Prince Albert (1819-1861), on the occasion of his 24th birthday.

 

From: England. Commissioned by Queen Victoria

Date: 1843

Material: Oil on canvas   Size: 648 x 534 mm

 

The Royal Collection

Photograph of Princess Elizabeth, taken by her father

Photograph of Princess Elizabeth, taken by her father

This photograph of The Queen, when Princess Elizabeth, was taken at Balmoral by her father, King George VI, when Duke of York. Princess Elizabeth watches Charlotte the parrot, with Queen Mary, her brother Alexander Earl of Athlone, and Snip, the King's terrier.

 

From: Taken at Balmoral. From Queen Mary's photograph album.

Date: September 1928

Material: Gelatin silver print

Size: 72 x 99 mm  

 

The Royal Collection

The first royal 'photograph' - a daguerreotype of Prince Albert

The first royal 'photograph' - a daguerreotype of Prince Albert

Daguerreotype of Prince Albert (1819-1861), by William Constable (1783-1861). This photograph was the first to be taken of a member of the British Royal Family.

 

From: Taken at Constable's studio in Brighton.

Date: 1842

Material: Daguerreotype

Size: 87 x 63 mm

 

The Royal Collection

Henry Fitzroy, an illegitimate son of Henry VIII

Henry Fitzroy, an illegitimate son of Henry VIII

Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset (1519-1536) was the illegitimate son of Henry VIII and Elizabeth Blount, a lady-in-waiting to Catherine of Aragon. He died from tuberculosis aged 17. Miniature in watercolour by Lucas Horenbout (c.1490/5-1544).

 

 

From: England. Acquired by Queen Victoria

Date: c.1533-34

Material: Watercolour on vellum laid on card

Size: Approx. 44 mm diameter

 

The Royal Collection

 

The elderly and ailing George III

The elderly and ailing George III

This is an early version of what would become one of the defining images of the elderly and ailing George III (1738-1820), during his final illness at Windsor Castle. It is a mezzotint by Samuel William Reynolds (1773-1835). On the orders of the king's eldest son, the future George IV, the artist revised the image by tidying the monarch's unkempt appearance. The print was later used as the basis of an enamel portrait of George III depicted as an elderly man by Joseph Lee (1780-1859).

 

From: England.  

Date: 1820  

Material: Mezzotint.  

Size: 432 x 320 mm, 432 x 323 mm, 430 mm x 319 mm

 

The Royal Collection

George III depicted as an elderly man by Joseph Lee (1780-1859)

George III depicted as an elderly man by Joseph Lee (1780-1859)

From: England. Enamel portrait possibly acquired by George IV

Date:  1827

Material: Enamel on copper

Size: 222 x 172 mm

 

The Royal Collection

More from Radio 4: Miniature of a Mughal prince

More from Radio 4: Miniature of a Mughal prince

The co-existence of faiths - peaceful or otherwise - across the globe around 400 years ago. This programme focuses on one of the great Islamic empires of the 16th and 17th centuries - in Mughal India. Neil MacGregor tells the story of the Mughal rulers and their relationship with Hindu India through a miniature painting (dated around 1610) that shows an encounter between a noble man and a holy man.

 

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More from Radio 4: Desert Island Discs - Lord Charteris

More from Radio 4: Desert Island Discs - Lord Charteris

(From Apr 1991) Lord Charteris of Amisfield - pillar of the British Establishment. Educated at Eton and Sandhurst, he became, at the age of 36, Private Secretary to the young Princess Elizabeth, whom he was to serve for nearly 30 years, retiring only after when, as Queen Elizabeth the Second, she celebrated her Silver Jubilee.

 

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More from Radio 4: Picture Power - Royal Wedding

More from Radio 4: Picture Power - Royal Wedding

James Hill of the New York Times gives up the chance to go to Libya in order to shoot the famous balcony kiss at the royal wedding between Catherine Middleton and Prince William.

 

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More from Radio 4: In Our Time - The Monarchy

More from Radio 4: In Our Time - The Monarchy

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the British monarchy. How has the monarchy survived since the execution of Charles the First two hundred and fifty years ago and what relevance does it have in a devolved Britain?

 

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