Masters of the Everyday: Dutch Artists in the Age of Vermeer, The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, London SW1, until 14th February 2016
This is a really engaging exhibition that reveals interest in Dutch painting by various monarchs since the reign of Charles I. He was the recipient of a gift of Rembrandt’s painting An Old Woman, called ‘The Artist’s Mother’ in 1629 and also had paintings by Dutch artists in his legendary art collection.
Vermeer’s ‘The Music Lesson’ was a part of Consul Smith’s collection which George III purchased in 1762. His son George IV was an avid collector of Dutch art and many of the works on show were acquired by him. In some ways he was following in the tradition of some of the 18th century French collectors such as the duc de Choiseul and one can certainly agree that French furniture of that period sits well with 17th century Dutch works. There is also a small display of Sèvres porcelain – another of George IV’s favourites – decorated with scenes taken from Dutch paintings.
Some twenty or so works in this exhibition will move to the Dutch Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis in The Hague this coming autumn because that gallery has loaned Gerrit Dou’s The Young Mother to this show. It is a painting which was given to Charles II in 1660 and when William of Orange became our King in 1688 he inherited this painting with the rest of the British Royal Collection. The picture was sent to decorate Het Loo his new hunting lodge near Apeldoorn in the Netherlands and has remained there ever since.
There is a sense of fun and humour in many of the paintings which depict scenes from everyday middle class life from the servants’ point of view and it is this element that makes it a suitable bedfellow for the adjoining Rowlandson exhibition.
High Spirits: The Comic Art of Thomas Rowlandson, The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace until 14th February 2016
Very little was safe from Rowlandson’s satirical wit as this exhibition shows be it society, fashion, politicians, love or the royal family. The young George IV when Prince of Wales was a particular target because of his extravagance and dubious lifestyle. Despite that it was George who started collecting these prints. They provide a fascinating glimpse into a world that many of us have read about in the works of Jane Austen.