Sandringham to exhibit 40 of The King’s watercolour paintings

Marking the year of the Coronation, Sandringham has announced that a ‘unique exhibition’, featuring a collection of The King’s watercolour paintings, is to open at Sandringham House. 

The collection will feature 40 depictions of British landscapes and royal residences painted by Charles, hung in the Ballroom to see.

It will include a range of scenes painted in the Welsh hills, the highlands of Scotland and views from Windsor Castle, Highgrove, Birkhall, and the surrounding Norfolk countryside of Sandringham.

A watercolour painting of Sandringham House by The King, painted in 1991. (Sandringham Estate)

The watercolour exhibition will open in accordance with the Sandringham House visiting season, 1st April to 12th October. 

Charles previously wrote in 1991 for the book ‘HRH The Prince of Wales Watercolours’, where he explained that he took up painting ‘because I found photography less than satisfying’.

‘Quite simply, I experienced an overwhelming urge to express what I saw through the medium of watercolour and to convey that almost “inner” sense of texture which is impossible to achieve via photography,’ he wrote.

His Majesty started watercolour paintings in the 1970s, after being inspired by Robert Waddell, his art master at Gordonstoun School. He has described himself as ‘an enthusiastic amateur’, however, The King is an honorary member of the Royal Academy and the Royal Watercolour Society.

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The King’s paintings were first exhibited in Windsor Castle in 1977, where they were displayed alongside works from Queen Victoria, who was also a water-colourist, and the Duke of Edinburgh, an oil painter, whose sketches helped create the stained-glass windows in the Private Chapel of Windsor Castle.

In recent years, The King’s watercolours depicting scenes around the world have been exhibited at Hampton Court Palace in 1998 to mark the then-Prince of Wales’s 50th birthday, and at The National Gallery of Australia in 2018. Last year, a selection of more than of his 70 paintings were on show at the Garrison Chapel in Chelsea.

In 1994, a collection of Royal Mail stamps featured his work to mark the 25th anniversary of his investiture as the Prince of Wales.

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The Prince was taught by some of the UK’s finest artists, including John Napper, John Ward, Hugh Casson, Edward Seago and Derek Hill.

He prefers to paint in one sitting, though Charles has said in the past that he often fails to do so, because he becomes embarrassed at keeping his security detail waiting for too long. His technique, with washes of colour, also suits this type of one-sitting painting.

He has also previously spoken of light being his fascination: ‘I think, you know, drawing from nature, observing from nature, is absolutely crucial,’ he said as part of an interview for the Royal Lightbox documentary in 2013. The programme examined royal artists over the centuries.

‘I’ve obviously been inspired by just looking. It’s usually the light that catches my attention. You can look at the same view over and over again and then suddenly one moment, there’s the most magical light.’

You can buy tickets for Sandringham House to see these works here.

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1 comment

Nicholas T Bania Sun 12 March, 2023 - 11:13 pm

His Majesty is so talented! How exciting!


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