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Episode 8 of 8

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Saturday 31 March 2012

In this Diamond Jubilee year, BBC Arts Editor Will Gompertz has been selecting some of the most revealing objects from the Royal Collection to see what they tell us about the monarchs who acquired them. It is one of the most wide-ranging collections of art and artefacts in the world, and also one of the most surprising - offering up an intriguing insight into the minds of the monarchs who assembled it.

During the course of this series, Will has encountered dozens of these unique objects - some priceless, others no more than souvenirs - each giving a glimpse into the essential characteristics of a successful sovereign. And in this, the final programme, he delves once more into the Collection to see what a subtly doctored portrait of Richard III, a bombastic mural that once hung in the Palace of Whitehall and the paintings on the Grand Staircase in Buckingham Palace tell us about how the Monarchy has dealt with a series of dynastic crises. And he joins the Royal Collection at work today and sees how Leonardo da Vinci, Johannes Vermeer and a pair of four foot candelabra are brought into the service of both Queen and country.

Producer: Paul Kobrak.

  • More from Radio 4

    Listen to a selection of programmes and clips related to The Art of Monarchy: Legacy

  • Drawings by Leonardo da Vinci

    The Head of Leda by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)

    The Head of Leda; Designs for Chariots and other Weapons; a Map of the Pontine Marshes, drawings by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519). One of the greatest treasures in the Royal Collection is the group of around 600 drawings by Leonardo da Vinci, all of which were probably acquired in a single album by Charles II.


    From: Italy. Probably acquired by Charles II (1630-1685)

    Date: c.1485-1515

    Material: Pen and ink and black chalk

    Size: 177 x 147 mm


    The Royal Collection



  • The Whitehall Mural after Hans Holbein the Younger

    The Whitehall Mural by Remigius van Leemput after a mural by Hans Holbein the Younger, painted for Henry VIII in 1537

    Henry VII, Elizabeth of York, Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, by Remigius van Leemput (died 1675) after Hans Holbein the Younger (c. 1497-1543). This painting is a copy of a now-lost mural from the wall of the Privy Chamber at Whitehall, which had been painted by Hans Holbein the Younger (c. 1497-1543) for Henry VIII (1491-1547) in 1537.


    From: England. Commissioned by Charles II (1630-1685)

    Date: 1667

    Material: Oil on canvas

    Size: 889 x 992 mm


    The Royal Collection





  • Portrait of Richard III

    Portrait of Richard III (1452-85)

    Richard III (1452-85), British School. The painting was recorded in Henry VIII's collection. The visual deformation of Richard III ties in with the Tudor tarnishing of the Yorkist king's reputation.


    From: England. Probably comissioned by Henry VII (1457-1509) or Henry VIII (1491-1547)

    Date: c.1510-20

    Material: Oil on panel

    Size: 565 x 356 mm


    The Royal Collection




  • The Hanoverian Succession

    The Hanoverian Succession, by Johann Sebastian Müller (1715-1792), after Samuel Wale (1720-1786)

    The Hanoverian Succession, by Johann Sebastian Müller (1715-1792), after Samuel Wale (1720-1786). A print celebrating the Hanoverian Succession, which commenced with the reign of George I (1660 -1727) and secured a Protestant monarchy for Great Britain.


    From: England

    Date: 1752

    Material: Etching and engraving

    Size: 552 x 437 mm


    The Royal Collection





  • The Mosaic Egg, by Peter Carl Fabergé

    The Mosaic Egg, by Peter Carl Fabergé

    The Mosaic Egg, by Peter Carl Fabergé (1846-1920). The egg was originally a gift from Tsar Nicolas II to Tsarina Alexandra, and contains a cameo of their 5 children. It was confiscated during the Russian Revolution shortly before the Tsar and his family were executed. It was later acquired by the Tsar's cousin, King George V of England.


    From: Russia. Acquired by King George V in 1933

    Date: 1914

    Material: Platinum, gold, diamond, seed pearl, topaz, rubies, demantoid garnets and enamel

    Size: 95 x 70 mm


    The Royal Collection



  • The Apples of the Hesperides candelabrum

    The Apples of the Hesperides candelabrum, by Paul Storr (1777-1844)

    The Apples of the Hesperides candelabrum, by Paul Storr (1777-1844). The candelabrum is part of George IV's splendid service of banqueting plate, which remains in use on important State occasions to this day.


    From: England. Comissioned by George IV, when Prince Regent.

    Date: 1810-17

    Material: Silver-gilt

    Size: 1250 x 520 x 515 mm


    The Royal Collection





  • More from Radio 4: The British Empire's Legacy

    The British Empire's Legacy

    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Britain's colonial legacy. The 18th, 19th and early part of the 20th centuries were times of colonial conquest for this country but the abiding image of empire (true or not) is stuck squarely in the 1850’s when Victoria was on the throne and the world map was liberally sprinkled with red. Are there different ways of remembering that past, and what effect do these different approaches have on our present? Are we still too close to our imperial past to view it objectively, or is the reverse true - that we are too deeply rooted in our present to learn the lessons of that past?


    Listen to the programme


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    The Art of Monarchy

    Will Gompertz enters the Royal Collection to examine some of the objects that have adorned, defined…

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