The First Georgians – Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace
Exhibition celebrates the 300th anniversary of a new royal dynasty
The First Georgians: Art & Monarchy 1714–1760 is at The Queen’s Gallery,
Buckingham Palace, 11 April – 12 October 2014.
T. +44 (0)20 7766 7323.
1688 was a major year in British history with the establishment of The Constitution of the United Kingdom, though unlike many other nations, the UK has no single constitutional document.
So to understand the importance of this Georgian period one should appreciate that this was the first period of putting to the test this new way of governing these islands.
Walking around the exhibition you may note a feeling of Liberty within the paintings and where interestingly faith and religion formed an easy reconciliation.
So if one was the Press Attaché looking for a buzz word for the period the word enlightenment would most likely spring to mind, however looking at the spin and propaganda as an era it was all fairly low key with no great Versailles to speak of.
I had never visited either The Queens Gallery or Buckingham Palace, a major faux pas for Gentlemans Butler, so I was very pleased to correct this misdemeanour. Impressed, yes supremely, all I can say is if you like for example John Lewis because things are well laid out and the staff well trained you will be moving straight from economy to first class here, the building as you would expect is impeccable but I was highly impressed and touched by how helpful and efficient the staff were.
I certainly came out having been intellectually and emotionally uplifted and with a smile on my face.
For more information on the exhibition and contact details read on.
Three hundred years ago Georg Ludwig, Elector of Hanover in Germany, acceded to the British throne as George I, the country’s first constitutional monarch. Now the first exhibition to tell the story of the king who established an unbroken line of royal succession to Her Majesty The Queen opens at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace this Friday (11 April).
The First Georgians: Art & Monarchy 1714–1760 explores the reigns of George 1 (r.1714–27) and his son George II (r.1727–60), shedding fresh light on the role of this new dynasty in the transformation of political, intellectual and cultural life. From paintings and furniture to garden design and table settings, the exhibition presents an all-embracing picture of early Georgian taste at a time when Britain emerges as the world’s most liberal, commercial and cosmopolitan society.
The reigns of George I and George II were fraught with familial strife. Both kings fell out spectacularly with their eldest sons, expelling them from court. Both sons set up alternative headquarters, furnishing their residences in grand style to rival those of their fathers. George II’s son, Frederick, Prince of Wales, used his independence to indulge his enthusiasm for the Old Masters, among them Guido Reni, Anthony van Dyck and David Teniers.
During this period, the focus of British cultural life began to shift away from court, as artists achieved success and fame through their own efforts, without the traditional support of a royal patron. The emergence of a new leisure class with an insatiable appetite for luxury goods drove Britain’s commercial enterprise. Antonio Canaletto’s elegant views of London, then the most important trading city in the world, contrast with William Hogarth’s satires on the fashionable tastes of the newly prosperous.
The continuous threat to the Hanoverians’ rule, both at home and overseas, is reflected in a fascinating display of military maps and drawings. A battle plan by George II’s son, the Duke of Cumberland, who led the King’s Troops at the Battle of Culloden in 1746, is shown alongside a letter from Bonnie Prince Charlie’s father consoling his son following his defeat at Culloden.
Desmond Shawe-Taylor, Surveyor of The Queen’s Pictures and curator of The First Georgians said, ‘This exhibition provides a definitive insight into the reigns of George I and George II and is the culmination of years of research into how this era is represented in the Royal Collection. The items that the early Georgian royal family collected, coveted and displayed in their residences reveal not only their artistic taste, but also the very human concerns that drove them.’
Tickets and visitor information: www.royalcollection.org.uk or T. +44 (0)20 7766 7301.
The accompanying publication, The First Georgians: Art & Monarchy 1714–1760, edited by Desmond Shawe-Taylor, is published by Royal Collection Trust, price £49.50.
Three short films exploring exhibition themes, presented by Desmond Shawe-Taylor, can be viewed online at www.royalcollection.org.uk
The programme of exhibition events, including lectures and talks, musical performances, study days and creative courses, is available at www.royalcollection.org.uk or
T. +44 (0)20 7766 7323.
Royal Collection Trust and the BBC have formed a unique partnership to mark the anniversary of the Hanoverian succession.
A three-part television series The First Georgians: The German Kings who Made Britain, presented by Dr Lucy Worsley, will be broadcast from late April on BBC Four. Drawing on objects from the exhibition and the expertise of Royal Collection Trust curators, it tells the story of how this unlikely new dynasty kept the throne and how life at court overlapped with the enormous changes that were reshaping Britain.
On 13 April, Radio 3’s The Early Music Show will broadcast a special performance from The Queen’s Gallery. Carole Cerasi will play the harpsichord made by Burkat Shudi for Frederick, Prince of Wales, on display in the exhibition.
Starting on 10 April, Radio 3’s In Tune will highlight an object a day from the exhibition over twelve days.