François Boucher, Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, Marquise de Pompadour (1721–64) France, 1758. Oil on Canvas, V&A: 487-1882 ©Victoria and Albert Museum / V&A Images

PERTH.- The Art Gallery of Western Australia is gearing up to host its second major international exhibition of the year ‐ a treasure trove of European decorative art from London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.

Princely Treasures: European Masterpieces 1600 – 1800 from the Victoria and Albert Museum comprises more than 90 magnificent artworks and objects, rarely seen on Australian shores.

Coming exclusively to Perth, this significant and highly visual collection includes painting and sculpture, ceramics and glass, metalwork and furniture, textiles and tapestries, personal adornment and dress, armoury, prints and drawing.

Many of these pieces are coming to Australia for the first time and were originally acquired by European men and women of power, wealth and taste between 1600 and 1800.

Made by Europe’s finest artists and craftsmen, and using precious materials from around the world, these masterpieces originate from all corners of the continent – from Britain and France, Italy and Germany, Russia and Spain, Austria and Belgium, Holland and Sweden.

The exhibition is the second in the Art Gallery of Western Australia’s Great Collections of the World series and will open on 24 September 2011 and run until 9 January 2012.

This exclusive WA showing will give Perth residents and visitors an unprecedented opportunity to experience first‐hand the opulence and splendour of these rare treasures.

Stefano Carboni, Director of the Art Gallery of Western Australia, said Princely Treasures was an exhibition with wide public appeal and a major coup for Perth. “I am proud to host such a colourful and rich collection which will not only delight visitors young and old including art lovers, history buffs and antique enthusiasts, it will also provide an intimate view into the lives of the wealthy and powerful in Europe past,” he said.

“The rich textiles, truly opulent furniture and stunning clothing and personal apparel are a wonder, as is the outstanding craftsmanship, use of dazzling materials and historical nature of many of the pieces such as the suits of armour. I would encourage all Western Australians to take this rare opportunity to experience the beauty and richness of these stunning artworks and historical objects while we are lucky enough to have them on our shores,” Mr Carboni said.

The Princely Treasures exhibition is to be presented in five different themes, encapsulating important aspects of courtly life in Europe at that time.

Princely Patronage presents the key figures who were the great patrons of the arts in Europe between 1600 and 1800, and some of the most sophisticated objects that circulated around European courts.

Power and Glory explores how representations of war were used to decorate objects commissioned for courtly use, from armour and weapons to tapestries and paintings.

Religious Splendour reveals the nature of objects made for worship, commissioned by secular or ecclesiastical patrons for public or private devotional use.

Display and the Domestic Interior presents furniture, textiles and ceramics made for use in the home, either for decorative or social purposes.

Fashion and Personal Adornment reveals the care and attention aristocratic men and women took to dress in fashionable style from head to toe.


Attributed to Hubert Le Sueur, Statue of Henry IV of France (1553 –1610) on Horseback trampling his enemy, Paris, c. 1620-5. Cast bronze V&A: A.46-1951 and A.1-1992 ©Victoria and Albert Museum / V&A Images