Enlightened Princesses

Enlightened Princesses: Caroline, Augusta, Charlotte and the Shaping of the Modern World, Kensington Palace, until November 2017

Queen Caroline of Ansbach, Joseph Highmore c.1735,
Royal Collection Trust c Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

This fascinating exhibition has come to Kensington Palace from the Yale Center for British Art where it understandably attracted so much interest while there. It considers the part played by three German Protestant princesses at the court of the Hanoverian Kings who ruled 18th century Britain. A legacy that can still be seen in today’s monarchy.

Enlightened Princesses – Installation view
(c) Historic Royal Palaces

The three princesses concerned are Caroline, consort of George II; her daughter-in-law Augusta, who was married to Frederick Prince of Wales and Charlotte (Augusta’s daughter-in-law), consort of George III. In many senses they were the right women in the right place as Britain was embracing the ideas of the Enlightenment and the princesses’ intelligence and curiosity combined with their exalted status allowed them to foster and support the new ideas.

Queen Charlotte, Johann Joseph Zoffany 1771,
Royal Collection Trust c Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

Scientists, authors and even musicians such as Handel were all drawn to their drawing rooms. They encouraged medical advances such as inoculation and were involved in the establishment of London’s Foundling Hospital. Plants and wildlife were another interest that all three shared and Kew Gardens is part of that legacy. They also supported British trade and manufacturing.

Enlightened Princesses – Installation view
(c) Historic Royal Palaces

The exhibition succeeds in bringing both their private and public world to life.  The Yale Center for British Art’s director Amy Meyers sums it up: “Caroline, Augusta, and Charlotte had sweeping intellectual, social, cultural, and political interests, which helped to shape the courts in which they lived, and encouraged the era’s greatest philosophers, scientists, artists, and architects to develop important ideas that would guide ensuing generations”.

The Flying Squirrel, Plate T-77, Mark Catesby
c The Royal Board of Trustees of Royal Botanic Gardens Kew


Christening robe made for future George IV, ivory silk satin c. 1760
(c) Historic Royal Palaces

A Legacy of Beauty

JOSEPH DALTON HOOKER: A LEGACY OF BEAUTY – From Halesworth to the Himalayas, Halesworth Gallery, Steeple End, Halesworth, Suffolk IP19 8LL, 1st– 19th July 2017

Sarcococca hookeriana var.digyna by Elaine Searle (Chelsea School of Botanical Art’s course director),
watercolour and graphite, 35cm high x 25cm wide.
Common plant name: Sweet box

This is a wonderful celebration of the 19th century botanist and explorer Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker OM GCSI CB PRS  who succeeded his father as Director of Kew Gardens. The works are by the pupils and alumni of the Chelsea School of Botanical Art. Their founder and director, Helen Allen said:  We are delighted that the Halesworth Gallery has invited us to exhibit botanical paintings of plants relating to, and named after, Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker. We are also including other plant illustrations showing this traditional art.  This is a great opportunity for our School and its alumni, many of whom now earn their living through their painting.  We plan to show visitors the tools and the progression of creating a botanical painting, which traditionally combines art and science, through the work of present and past talented Chelsea School of Botanical Art students.”

Joseph Hooker, Director of Kew Gardens, London 1865.

“The list of plants named after Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker is extensive. Many of the species are no longer the same as they were when discovered by Hooker, some are very rare and protected. Therefore, in some cases, our artists have selected the current version to paint.  We will also be showing other botanical paintings and illustrations by our alumni.”

Echiveria x hookeri by Penny Price,
watercolour, 35cm high x 24cm wide.
Common plant name: Succulent