Charles I heads Royal Academy’s programme for 2018

Art and auctions, Events, Exhibitions, People and Places — By on September 9, 2017 at 11:36 PM

Charles I. By Anthony van Dyck

Charles I heads Royal Academy’s programme for 2018

Long before he lost his head to victorious Parliamentary forces, Charles I of England, Scotland and Ireland lost his head to masterpieces of art.

He built a remarkable collection of pictures in a prolific spending spree that together with other extravagances swelled the debts of the Crown. He amassed 2,000 pieces of exquisite art including 1,500 paintings and 500 sculptures, dating from the 15th to the 17th century.

Had his political horizons been as liberal as his cultural ones, he might have lived longer to enjoy his extraordinary collection,

Desmond Shawe-Taylor (left) and Per Rumberg.

After his execution, in 1649, many of the works, including paintings by Raphael, Titian and Rubens, were like the contents of the Royal household scattered across Europe, sold to eager buyers and offered as diplomatic gifts to heads of state.

Starting in January 2018, the Royal Academy of Arts, in partnership with Royal Collection Trust, will for 77 days reunite a substantial part of the deposed ruler’s collection. The Royal Academy begins its 250th anniversary year programme – which has just been announced in full – with the exhibition Charles I: King and Collector.

Ta Moko carved panel, 1896-1899

Following the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, many of the dispersed pieces were regained by Charles II but some never came back to England, ending up for example in the Musée du Louvre and the Museo Nacional del Prado.  To this day, “lost” works continue to emerge.

After succeeding to the throne in 1625, Charles indulged in abundance his passion for the arts, inviting van Dyck and Rubens to work in England – he commissioned Rubens to paint ceiling panels for the Banqueting House, Whitehall, depicting an allegory of Divine Right, which turned out to be the credo which would lead to the downfall of the self-aggrandising monarch. Charles bought paintings from around Europe, including works by Raphael, Holbein, Mantegna and Titian, and paintings and sculpture from the Duke of Mantua.

The strength of his collection changed the way art was appreciated in England, says the Royal Academy.

The Shard. Renzo Piano Building Workshop.

Three months after his accession he married Henrietta Maria of France, and their children included Charles II, James II, and Mary, who married William of Orange. For the Royal Academy exhibition, a portrait of the Henrietta Maria will be loaned by the National Gallery of Art, Washington.

Sir Anthony van Dyck painted many portraits of the monarch, his family and members of the court, including the exhibition’s signature triple portrait probably begun in 1635. This was meant as a model for a marble bust by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The sculpture was to be a papal present to Henrietta Maria at a time when there were hopes that the King might return England to the bosom of the Roman Catholic Church. The bust was fashioned in the summer of 1636 and presented to the King and Queen the following year. It was destroyed in a fire at Whitehall Palace in 1698.

Seated Female Nude, Elbows Resting on Right Knee. By Egon Schiele.

Charles’s reign ignited civil wars, with the Scots, in Ireland, and in England. The Royalists were defeated in 1645-1646 by a combination of parliament’s alliance with the Scots, the formation of Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army, and the Navy’s adherence to the rebel cause, which made it difficult for the Royalists to get aid from the continent.

A group of MPs, including Cromwell, put him on trial for treason, and he was executed outside the Banqueting House.

Majesty, 2006. By Tacita Dean.

Curators for the big show are Per Rumberg of the Royal Academy and Desmond Shawe-Taylor, who has been surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures since 2005.

Among the 150 works in Charles I exhibition, which, said Mr Rumberg reflects the “depth and splendour of his collection,” will be an image of the King with his horse, which will be shown alongside two other equestrian portraits. Other celebrated pieces include four Mortlake tapestries of Raphael’s Acts of the Apostles which have been in the Mobilier National in Paris.

Van Dyck’s Charles I (Le Roi a la Chasse) from the Louvre, Paris, returns to England for the first time since the 17thcentury.

Two Titian pieces have been retrieved, the Supper at Emmaus, from the Louvre in Paris, and Charles V with a Dog, from the Museo del Prado in Madrid.

A Private View at the Royal Academy, 1881. By William Powell Frith.

The UK’s Royal Collection, one of the five departments of the Royal Household, is one of the largest  and  most  important  art  collections  in  the world, and is  held  in  trust  by  the  Queen  for  her  successors  and  the nation. Mr Shawe-Taylor has overall curatorial responsibility for some 7,000 oil paintings and 3,000 miniatures. More than 3,000 objects from the Royal Collection are on long-term loan to museums and galleries around the UK and abroad.

It is sometimes forgotten that Charles left another important legacy, in inaugurating the post of Master of the King’s Music.

Dates for Charles I: King and Collector are January 27 to April 15, 2018.

Another major show at the academy will be Oceania, which is billed as the first major survey of Oceanic art in the UK. Scheduled from September 29 to December 10, 2018, it will Include full-scale inter-island canoes and navigational charts, reflecting the ancient maritime prowess of the peoples of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.

Courtyard statue of Sir Joshua Reynolds, first president of the RA.

Encompassing the vast South Pacific region from New Guinea to Easter Island, and Hawaii to New Zealand, this will be the first expositional coverage of its kind since 1979, when the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC explored the subject.

It coincides with the 250th anniversary of the Royal Academy, which happened to be founded in the year that Capt James Cook set sail on his first expedition from Plymouth to the South Seas, on the Endeavour.

On display will be 250 works and artefacts from the region, in a way it is claimed to avoid approaching the subject matter from the European perspective and to be sensitive to local cultural traditions – the region was populated for millennia before the white man set foot there.

Adrian Locke, a senior curator at the RA, spoke of the “fantastic richness of objects that have been collected since the time of Cook,” by voyagers, explorers, missionaries and anthropologists.” He said that the academy had set out to avoid contentious questions of provenance, and that it is working closely with a scientific committee and indigenous leaders.

The exhibition, which will integrate contemporary work of relevance to the region, has been organised by the Royal Academy and Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac, Paris, which specialises in indigenous art, and with the participation of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge.

Celebrating, as is its progenitor, its 250th anniversary, the Royal Academy’s Summer Show will in 2018 be coordinated by Grayson Perry, academician and provocative commentator on contemporary society.  It is arranged for June 12 to August 19, and contemporaneously the history of the summer show will be set out in The Great Spectacle: 250 Years of the Summer Exhibition. This will include works by Sir Joshua Reynolds (he lived between 1723 and 1792 and was the first president of the RA), Thomas Gainsborough, Thomas Lawrence, John Constable, JMW Turner, John Everett Millais, Frederic Leighton, John Singer Sargent, Peter Blake, Tracey Emin, Zaha Hadid, Michael Craig-Martin, David Hockney and Wolfgang Tillmans. One work was submitted to the summer exhibition of 1946 by a “David Winter” depicting Chartwell House, the family home of Sir Winston Churchill – it turned out that the pseudonym disguised none other than the wartime prime minister, an avid painter.

Starting in autumn 2018 (September 15 to January 20, 2019) the Royal Academy will present a solo survey of the architect Renzo Piano, an honorary member of the RA. This will be the first annual architecture exhibition in the newly refurbished zone (named the Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Galleries) in the RA’s Burlington Gardens buildings, and the first such presentation about the Italian maestro in London for almost 30 years.  It will highlight his large-scale buildings such as the Shard, the 95-storey “vertical city” which since 2013 has dominated the London skyline, The Shard, owned by the state of Qatar and Sellar Property Group, is 309.6 m high and is the tallest building in Western Europe.

To the credit of Renzo Piano are the Pompidou Centre in Paris (1977, conceived when a young architect with Richard Rogers, and the new Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. His designs for more modest projects in housing, hospitals and schools will be highlighted. The show promises rarely seen drawings, models and full-scale maquettes, and insight into the process behind some of the best-known creations.

As 2018 marks the centenary of the deaths of Gustav Klimt (born in 1862) and Egon Schiele (born in 1890), this has prompted Klimt/Schiele: Drawings from the Albertina Museum, Vienna. From November 4 to February 3, 2019, this exhibition will focus on the fundamental importance of drawing in the relationship between Austria’s two most prominent artists.

Comprising some 100 works on paper, the exhibition includes sketches for allegorical paintings, landscapes, portraits, nudes, erotic drawings, sketchbooks, graphic designs, lithographs and photographs. After being shown at the RA, they are not expected to be loaned again for many years because of their exceptional sensitivity to light.

Tacita Dean: Landscape (dates to be announced) will range over her work stemming from natural found objects, to a large blackboard drawing, and a series of cloudscapes in chalk on slate created especially for the academy. The highlight will be an experimental new 35 mm film blending places, geologies and seasons into a single cinematographic image.

From Life (December 11, 2017 to March 11, 2018) will explore what making art from life has meant to artists throughout history. Classical paintings by practitioners such as Johann Zoffany will be displayed alongside works by contemporary artists including Jeremy Deller, Cai Guo-Qiang, Michael Landy, Jenny Saville, Yinka Shonibare, Humphrey Ocean and Gillian Wearing. It will go on to deal with how new technologies are opening exciting possibilities for artists including Antony Gormley, Farshid Moussavi and Jonathan Yeo.

Works will include Jeremy Deller’s Iggy Pop Life Class (2016). Twenty-one artists of all levels gathered at the New York Academy of Art in February 2016 for a life drawing class with a guest model, American rock star Iggy Pop, posing nude.  The results were shown at the Brooklyn Museum in autumn 2016. Deller said at the time: “For me it makes perfect sense for Iggy Pop to be the subject of a life class; his body is central to an understanding of rock music and its place within American culture. His body has witnessed much and should be documented.”

The Royal Academy will offer free life drawing classes for 250 people of all abilities in the Life Room in the RA Schools. The guest tutors will be revealed only when the life drawing class begins. The RA is inviting the public and Friends of the RA to participate through an open ballot to win 50 places at the classes.

The RA has meanwhile launched its Free Student Art Pass for people studying art, architecture, applied arts and history of art at A level and at further and higher education institutions. This will take effect from the opening of the Jasper Johns show Something Resembling Truth on September 23, 2017. Students may register for the scheme at for details of days and times when free exhibition tickets can be booked.

Charles Saumarez Smith, secretary and chief executive of the RA, paid tribute to BNY Mellon, as 250th anniversary partner. He said most arts institutions were finding difficulties in securing cultural sponsorship “and if the political climate is uncertain, then it becomes trickier.”

Importantly, 2018 sees the completion of the RA’s “expanded canvas” made possible by a link constructed between the institution’s Piccadilly and Burlington Garden premises, with a new suite of galleries in the latter.

Captions in detail:

Charles I. oil on canvas. By Anthony van Dyck. Royal Collection Trust /© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Ta Moko carved panel, 1896-1899. Tene Waitere. Wood, shell and paint. Courtesy of National Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

The Shard, London Bridge Tower and London Bridge Place, London, 2012. Renzo Piano Building Workshop. Photo © William Matthews.

Seated Female Nude, Elbows Resting on Right Knee, 1914. Pencil, gouache on Japan paper. By Egon Schiele. The Albertina Museum, Vienna.

Majesty, 2006. Gouache on photograph mounted on paper. By Tacita Dean. Tate © Courtesy the artist, Frith Street Gallery, London and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York/Paris.

A Private View at the Royal Academy, 1881. Oil on canvas. By William Powell Frith. Pope Family Trust, c/o Martin Beisly.


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