Artemisia Gentileschi, “Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting,” circa 1638-39, oil on canvas, Royal Collection Trust

Following its successful run at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace in 2016, this incredible exhibition that delves into the world of self-portraiture through a remarkable selection of works from the Royal Collection soon lands here.

The Royal Collection is one of the most important art collections in the world, and now important examples of historical self-portraiture from the collection are heading to the Vancouver Art Gallery in British Columbia. “Portrait of the Artist: An Exhibition from the Royal Collection” is the first outside the United Kingdom to focus on images of artists within the Royal Collection. Among the artists represented are Rembrandt, Peter Paul Rubens, Artemisia Gentileschi, Lucien Freud, and David Hockney; also included are images of artists by their friends, relatives, and pupils, including the most reliable surviving likeness of Leonardo da Vinci, by his student Francesco Melzi.

Following its run at the Queen’s Gallery, “Portrait of the Artist” will open in Vancouver on October 28 and remain on view through February 4, 2018. Kathleen S. Bartels, director of the Vancouver Art Gallery, remarked, “‘Portrait of the Artist’ presents a remarkable group of paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, and works of art spanning six centuries from the Royal Collection. These works highlight both the enormous richness of the Royal Collection and the complex and deep relationship that the British monarchy has had with artists. We are delighted to offer audiences this rare opportunity to trace the evolving role of artists across time.”

Continuing, the gallery’s press release reads, “Central to the history of the British monarchy has been the role of art, both to define the image of the monarchs and to confirm their power, wealth, and taste. However, during the Renaissance, artists began claiming an increasingly central role in visual culture, as emphasis shifted toward individual achievement and the notion of the artist as a uniquely visionary genius. This growing respect for artists as creators led to the collecting of artist’s self-portraits and images of artists playing roles and at work. Such voracious collection began with King Charles I, one of Europe’s greatest art collectors. As soon as succeeding British monarchs began employing and collecting the work of artists (both British and European), they also began collecting artist’s self-portraits.”

To learn more, visit The Vancouver Art Gallery.

This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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