Royal Collection paintings to undergo survey
Paintings from the Royal Collection, one of the largest and most important art collections in the world, are to undergo a major survey. Never before has such a review been conducted on such a scale.
It is one of the last remaining European royal collections to remain entirely intact from its inception. Its origins lie in the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, as following the execution of Charles I in 1649, the bulk of the King’s possessions were sold off.
Over the last 500 years, various members of the royal family have added to the collection, but the bulk of it has been formed by Frederick, Prince of Wales; George III; George IV; Queen Victoria and Prince Albert; and Queen Mary, consort of King George V.
The Art Newspaper revealed that there are 7,564 paintings in the collection, which are dotted about various properties belonging to the royal family in the UK. Every single work will be examined closely – to ascertain what condition they are in – photographed and digitised. Images and details will then be published online.
It will be a meticulous affair, with a team of four conservators and frame technicians given the responsibility of working ‘systematically’ through every single royal residence, one room at a time. Each painting will be removed from its frame for proper examination.
The experts will document all inscriptions and markings found on the paintings, stretchers and frames, the online newspaper reported, after which, where there is no cause for concern over the integrity of the work, the surface will be cleaned. Repairs will be made in situ.
While the project is to be funded for a period of three years – costs running into the millions, it is speculated – it is highly likely that such a complex and sensitive endeavour could take up to a decade to complete, which the Art Newspaper has worked out as representing the survey of three paintings a day.
“Until now, conservation efforts have concentrated on paintings requiring urgent attention, those considered to be masterpieces and works due to go on loan,” the online news provider explained. “The new survey will adopt a broader perspective and will focus on the collection as a whole.”
At present, over 3,000 objects from the Royal Collection are on long-term loan to galleries and museums around the world, including major institutions in the UK (the British Museum, the National Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Museum of London, the National Museum of Wales and the National Gallery of Scotland).
Cadogan Tate specialises in art transportation, fine art storage and art logistics, helping galleries, museums and collectors manage their collections.