Hampton Court Palace is famous for being the former home of Henry VIII – it also houses the wonderful Cumberland Art Gallery that displays treasures from the Royal Collection. The gallery occupies the four remaining rooms of William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, the younger son of George II.
Take a look at some of my favourite works of art housed therein, including a painting of Henry VIII that is nearly 500 years old and an original Andy Warhol.
According to the gallery, royal portraits often aim to project an iconic image, here, Warhol has altered an official portrait to a ‘mask-like representation’. Warhol emphasised the Queen’s global status with his series of prints, but with his use of colours, he reduced the public’s ability to see beyond her royal status.
Charles I was a collector of fine art and used his collection to portray his image as a ‘magnificent monarch and true connoisseur’. This is Van Dyke’s ‘modello’ given to the King for his approval. The life-size portrait is displayed in the National Gallery.
This is one of the few surviving portraits of Henry VIII that was painted in his lifetime. Holbein’s portraits of Henry VIII are ‘intimidating statements of royal authority’. Holbein was renowned for his talent in capturing the likeness of his subjects.
Public access to historic buildings provided ‘rich inspiration’ for artists of the Victorian era. Paintings, such as the one above, also represent a catalogue of the works of art on display in the Palace on any given date.
The painting of Princess Mary, the six-year-old daughter of Charles I, is a ‘statement of dynastic wealth’. Mary is dressed in expensive fabrics and the gold curtain behind also represents the grandeur of her station in life.
This anonymous cherubic boy is wearing a dress. This was the norm for boys, they weren’t ‘breeched’, that is given trousers to wear, until the age of five. His sumptuous dress, gold chain and feathers in his hat demonstrate his family’s status.
The two miniatures below reflect how miniature portraiture changed over time. Charles I was painted in watercolour on vellum, while Victoria’s image was achieved by applying enamel on gold.
Van Dyke depicted his mistress, Margaret Lemon, as the goddess Venus. Margaret’s ‘direct gaze and half-smile betray the confidence and intimacy of a lover’.
The portrait of Frances Stuart (below left) is a statement of high fashion. In Charles II’s decadent court women would occasionally dress in male wigs and attire. Frances, later Duchess of Richmond, was a maid of honour to the Queen.