Queen's Gallery review (Aug 2014)
This is out-of-date! I have been here again since I wrote this review
This is my third gallery in one day -- the Courtauld, Saatchi, and now the Queen's Gallery -- and for somebody who doesn't like galleries that is like going to the dentist three times. But I've got a feeling I'm going to like this one because it's full of Royal stuff, and I've got a soft spot for the Queen.
The gallery is tacked onto the back of Buckingham Palace, round the side by the Royal Mews. So technically I suppose you could say that you've been inside the palace, although of course you haven't really (even though you have!). You don't get to see any of the palace proper, just ten-or-so rooms with some pictures in. The only downside is that they give you a timed ticket because it's so busy. I turned up there at 1 PM today and didn't get a spot until 3.15 PM -- so that shows you how busy it is (something to bear in mind if you've worked out a schedule).
The Queen's Gallery is usually split into two, with a temporary exhibition at the start, followed by a few rooms from the main collection. So if I describe a picture to you here the chances are that it will have gone by the time you visit. At the time of writing they've got a big collection of Georgian stuff on show. It's full of Royal portraits and battle maps, with some Hogarth cartoons and flintlock guns. They chuck in an audio guide too, so you can learn something about the paintings and painters.
The most impressive rooms come after the exhibition, filled with works from the Royal Collection. And it's pretty spectacular. It's what I call 'proper art', from the days when they could paint -- none of that modern art rubbish. And the rooms themselves are pretty great too. It's all deep greens and golds, with rich wood and marble -- exactly how a palace's gallery should be. Some of the frames are thick and chunky gold about three-feet fat -- they must weigh a tonne. They've got lots of delicate little miniatures too, and some original furniture from the State Rooms (I recognise it from the Summer tour).
I think my favourite paintings are by Canaletto. He has the knack of making London look like Venice, and the River Thames like the Tiber. It's only when you see the dome of St. Paul's rising above the rooftops that you realise what he's painting.
It's not the biggest gallery in the world. To be honest I thought there would be more on show than there actually was, but I guess that most of the Royal Collection is already hanging on the walls of Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. That's where all the best stuff is, so if you want to see that then you'll have to stump up for the tours. But don't get me wrong... the Queen's Gallery is still worth a visit. If you ignore the temporary exhibition for a minute (4 rooms), then there are only really two big rooms that I'd happily pay to see -- but they are blinding rooms. And that is coming from someone who doesn't like art galleries, remember... so they must be good!
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