Keen artist Prince Charles is now one of Britain’s most successful living creatives, having sold millions of pounds worth of prints of his paintings.
Since 1997, Clarence House has revealed, The Prince of Wales has earned £2 million from selling limited edition lithograph prints of his work in the Highgrove gift shop. The money raised from such sales is sent to The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation.
Charles, 67, paints landscape watercolours, and has enjoyed doing so since his youth, after receiving a lesson from Edward Seago. He paints regularly at home, even taking his colours and tools abroad with him on tours, to occupy any spare time or relax him.
The prints at Highgrove are priced at £2,500, but limited prints are available at the Belgravia Gallery, which previously handled the sales, for up to £15,000. Charles never sells the original paintings.
The paintings are copyrighted to A. G. Carrick Ltd – a trading arm of The Prince’s Charities Foundation – which takes its name from two of Charles’ middle names and one of his titles: Arthur and George, and The Earl of Carrick.
Surveys show that fine artists, on average, earn £10,000 per year; when we look at the Prince’s average earnings, it is something like £200,000 annually from art sales over the past 25 years.
Charles began selling prints in 1989, after being approached by the owner of Belgravia Gallery. “I saw his work as a water colourist in a Sunday newspaper magazine article in 1989,” Anna Hunter said.
“Until then I had no idea he was an artist. I wrote him a letter suggesting that if his works were made into signed lithographs, they could be sold to raise money for his charitable foundation.
“I didn’t hear anything for ages and then just before Christmas 1989 his private secretary called me and said he was very interested and could we meet.”
16 lithographs were created in the project with the gallery. “We did a tot up about eight years ago and reckoned we had raised £4m then.
“It was a really lovely project. The originals are mostly at Highgrove. I think these are really charming works of art in the English watercolour tradition and they are a really good reflection of the talent that lies within the Royal family for art,” Hunter explained.
The Prince of Wales often sketches in red ink before beginning a painting, noting the use of light and colours for the real thing. He has painted the Royal residences, including Balmoral and Sandringham, as well as houses and castles in Scotland, and landscapes across the world, including whilst skiing in Switzerland, and Greece.
In 1991, Charles released a book of his paintings entitled ‘HRH The Prince of Wales Watercolours’, and more recently, in 2013, he contributed to a documentary called ‘Royal Paintbox’ which explored Royal artists through the ages, including his ancestors.
The same year, an exhibition – featuring works by George III, his children, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and their children, Edward VII, Queen Alexandra, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Queen and Prince Charles – went on display at Windsor Castle for the public to see, so it seems it is a family talent.
Charles’ official website displays 130 of his watercolours – see them here.
Commemorative stamps mark the 25th anniversary of Charles being invested as The Prince of Wales, using his own work.