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Artemisia Gentileschi, Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting (La Pittura), c. 1638–39. Oil on canvas. Photo: Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

VANCOUVER, BC.- The Vancouver Art Gallery presents Portrait of the Artist: An Exhibition from the Royal Collection, opening on October 28, 2017 and remaining on view until February 4, 2018. 

Following the acclaimed exhibition that debuted at The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace in 2016, Portrait of the Artist: An Exhibition from the Royal Collection presents a remarkable group of works from the Royal Collection—one of the most important art collections in the world. The first of its kind to focus on images of artists within the Royal Collection outside of the UK, the exhibition will showcase self-portraits by world-renowned artists including Rembrandt, Peter Paul Rubens, Artemisia Gentileschi, Lucien Freud and David Hockney, as well as images of artists by their friends, relatives and pupils, including the most reliable surviving likeness of Leonardo da Vinci by his student, Francesco Melzi.  

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Attributed to Francesco Melzi (1493-1570), Leonardo da Vinci, c. 1515-18. Red chalk . Photo: Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

“Portrait of the Artist presents a remarkable group of paintings, drawings, prints, photographs and works of art spanning six centuries from the Royal Collection. These works highlight both the enormous richness of the Royal Collection and the complex and deep relationship that the British monarchy has had with artists,” says Kathleen S. Bartels, Director of the Vancouver Art Gallery. “We are delighted to offer audiences this rare opportunity to trace the evolving role of artists across time.” 

Central to the history of the British monarchy has been the role of art, both to define the image of the monarch and to confirm their power, wealth and taste. However, during the Renaissance, artists began claiming an increasingly central role in visual culture, as emphasis shifted toward individual achievement and the notion of the artist as a uniquely visionary genius. This growing respect for artists as creators led to the collecting of artist’s self-portraits and images of artists playing roles and at work. Such voracious collecting began with King Charles I, one of Europe’s greatest art collectors. As soon as succeeding British monarchs began employing and collecting the work of artists (both British and European), they also began collecting artist’s self-portraits.  

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Gabriel Metsu (Leiden 1629-Amsterdam 1667), A Self-Portrait, c.1655-8. Oil on panelPhoto: Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

Portrait of the Artist: An Exhibition from the Royal Collection is divided into four sections: 

The first section is titled Portraits of Artists and includes images of Peter Paul Rubens, Isaac Oliver, Annibale Carracci, Joshua Reynolds and Lucian Freud, among others. The second, which looks at the Artist at Work, has a remarkable self-portrait of Sir Edwin Landseer and Thomas Rowlandson’s satirical The Chamber of Genius, c. 1805-10. The third section, Playing a Role, which looks at how the self-portrait provides artists the opportunity to choose what persona to present to the world, includes one of the most important Italian paintings of the seventeen century, Artemisia Gentileschi’s iconic Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting (La Pittura), c.1638-9. The final section, which examines the role of the self-portrait in the Life and Legacy of artists, includes works by Johann Wittmer, Raphael’s First Sketch of the ‘Madonna della Sedia’, 1853, and Giovanni Castiglione’s, The Genius of Castiglione, 1648.  

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Sir Peter Paul Rubens (Siegen 1577 - Antwerp 1640), Recto: A self-portrait in old age. Verso: A man and a woman embracing, c. 1635-40. Black and white chalks with pen and ink on rough paper. Photo: Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

Helping to mark the sesquicentennial of Canada, Portrait of the Artist is exclusive to Vancouver, having been generously lent by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II from the British Royal Collection. The exhibition is curated by Anna Reynolds, Lucy Peter and Martin Clayton from Royal Collection Trust. The coordinating curator is Ian Thom, Senior Curator—Historical.

October 28, 2017 to February 4, 2018.

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Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-92), Self-portrait, circa 1788. Oil on panelPhoto: Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

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Annibale Carracci (Bologna 1560-Rome 1609), A self-portrait on an easel, c. 1603-05. Pen and inkPhoto: Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

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Lucian Freud (1922-2011), Self-portrait: Reflection1996. Etching with plate tonePhoto: Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

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David Hockney (b. 1937), Self-Portrait, 6 April 2012, drawn 6 Apr 2012. Ink-jet printed iPad drawingPhoto: Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

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Sir Edwin Landseer (1803-73), The Connoisseurs: Portrait of the Artist with two Dogs, before Jun 1865. Oil on canvasPhoto: Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

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Thomas Rowlandson (1757-1827), The Chamber of Genius, c. 1805-10. Pen and watercolour over pencilPhoto: Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

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Johann Michael Wittmer, Raphael's First Sketch of the 'Madonna della Sedia', 1853. Oil on canvas. Photo: Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017