Monday, September 10
The Queen’s Gallery
The Royal Mews
“Awake And Sing”
We are going to leave our hotel, without eating breakfast, at 8:30 a.m., and take the subway to Victoria Station.
Upon our arrival, we are going to have breakfast at a café midway between Victoria Station and Buckingham Palace, a cafe my brother and I discovered and liked in 2005. It will be a welcome change from breakfast in the hotel dining room.
After breakfast, we will walk the short distance to The Queen’s Gallery, a wing of Buckingham Palace separate and apart from the main body of the Palace. The Queen’s Gallery is a year-round museum, housed in the portion of the Palace that was bombed during World War II and later rebuilt. It presents temporary art exhibitions taken from the Queen’s hoard of artworks.
One of the best exhibitions I ever saw was at The Queen’s Gallery. My brother and I visited the stupendous 2004 exhibition, “George III and Queen Charlotte: Patronage, Collecting And Court Taste”, an unbelievably rich exhibition, spectacularly displayed, that addressed the artworks collected during the long reign of George III.
My brother and I loved that exhibition, and we had wanted to buy the exhibition catalog for our mother. We could not do so in 2004, however, because the catalog was too large—we had not allowed enough room in our luggage for it—so we had to wait until the next year, when we deliberately HAD allowed enough room in our luggage for the catalog, to buy it and give it to our mother as a much-delayed gift.
That catalog is the best exhibition catalog I have ever read. It is comprehensive, detailed, scholarly and beautiful. The catalog is a work of art in and of itself, and our mother loves it.
British art critics frequently remark that art exhibitions at The Queen’s Gallery are perhaps the very finest in all of Europe. Exhibition artworks are imaginatively selected, splendidly-well displayed, and meticulously documented. The Queen obviously has a very large and very talented staff of curators.
The special exhibition we will visit is “The Art Of Italy In The Royal Collection”, a selection of paintings, drawings, statuary, furniture, objects d’art and illuminated manuscripts collected by the Stuart Kings, Charles I and Charles II.
Charles I was the greatest royal collector in the history of the British monarchy—among other things, he purchased, outright, the collection of the Gonzaga dynasty of Mantua—and The Royal Collection’s assortment of Italian paintings and drawings may, in large part, be traced back to Charles I. It is one of the greatest such collections in the world.
There will be 90 paintings and 85 drawings in the exhibition, and all of the major names in Italian painting, from the Renaissance and Baroque periods, will be represented: Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, Sebastiano Del Piombo, Pontormo, Bronzino, Correggio, Parmigianino, Giovanni Bellini, Titian, Tintoretto, Lorenzo Lotto, Jacopo Bassano, Veronese, Annibale Carracci, Caravaggio, Cristofano Allori, Domenichino, Guido Reni, Domenico Fetti, Guercino, both Gentileschi’s and Bernardo Strozzi.
A handful of these works my brother and I saw in 2004, when they were hung in The Picture Gallery at Buckingham Palace—we have already seen one of the Lorenzo Lotto paintings, and one of the Annibale Carracci paintings, and the Cristofano Allori, and the Guido Reni, and the Guercino, and one of the Gentileschi paintings—but most of these paintings will be new to us, and all of them will be new to my parents and to Joshua.
We will love this exhibition, I know, and I cannot wait for my mother to see this exhibition.
When we have completed viewing the exhibition at The Queen’s Gallery, we shall walk back to the same café at which we had breakfast, and have a light lunch.
After lunch, we will walk back to Buckingham Palace, and visit The Royal Mews. The Royal Mews houses the many royal carriages—including the magnificent Gold State Coach—used by The Royal Family for assorted functions and occasions. We shall see the carriages, and the stables, and the Windsor Greys and the Cleveland Bays, as well as some of the motorized vehicles used by The Royal Family.
Once we complete our visit to the Mews, we will go back to Victoria Station and take the subway back to our hotel. My parents will rest for a couple of hours, and my brother and Josh and I will go swimming in the hotel pool.
In the early evening, we will take the subway to Angel Station and find a restaurant in Islington for dinner.
After dinner, we will attend a performance of Clifford Odets’ “Awake And Sing”, with Stockard Channing, at the historic Almeida Theatre.
We will take the subway back to our hotel after the theater performance.