The latest exhibition to grace the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace, Painting Paradise – The Art Of The Garden, draws together lavish depictions of grand gardens and botany from the Royal Collection.
Painting Paradise is a fascinating exhibition, but then they always are at the Queen’s Gallery, able to access several centuries worth of treasures that have been amassed by our Kings and Queens!
The “paradise” in the exhibition title references the language used to describe the earliest formal gardens which were developed by the Persian empire in the 6th century BC – in fact the first object that you’ll come across is a delicate and priceless depiction of a garden scene from a 16th illuminated Islamic manuscript.
Paintings of garden scenes make up the majority of the 150 objects on show in the Painting Paradise exhibition – a roll call of Royal settings from the elaborate formal gardens of Hampton Court Palace, via the sumptuous surroundings of Versailles to the gentle Victorian vistas at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. In fact Hampton Court gets more than it’s fair share of attention thanks to several depictions in oils and an opportunity to examine the sophisticated sundials that used to sit at the entrance to one of the formal gardens – due to their value the ones that grace the grounds today are actually replicas.
Once you’ve feasted your eyes on all of the paintings (which include work by Rembrandt and botanical sketches by Leonardo da Vinci no less) there’s even more to see. Personally I always find old books and manuscripts fascinating, and there are two fine historical examples in the exhibition – the world’s first book that set out techniques for growing and displaying garden plants plus the last surviving 17th century British book containing illustrations of flowers, made by gardener and artist Alexander Marshal.
Of course an exhibition featuring items from the Royal Collection wouldn’t be complete without world-class objet d’art, and Painting Paradise doesn’t disappoint. There’s a lot to see, but highlights for me included the outrageous and almost garish Victorian chandelier from Osborne House and a collection of delicate jewellery depicting orange blossom that was gifted to Queen Victoria over a number of years by Prince Albert…
Painting Paradise – The Art Of The Garden will be on show at the Queen’s Gallery until 11 October. Tickets are priced at £10 for adults, £9.20 concessions. Children under 5 go free.