The art collection formed by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother reflects her warm friendships with artists and her very personal response to a quality in works of art that she called ‘the effect of magic’. Queen Elizabeth was an enthusiastic supporter of contemporary British artists of the early to mid-20th century and had a particular appreciation of the younger generation working outside the artistic establishment. This first exhibition of 73 watercolours and drawings from her collection has been selected to show the range of Queen Elizabeth’s taste, embracing artists as diverse as Thomas Gainsborough and John Bratby.
From the first portrait of Queen Elizabeth as Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon aged seven to watercolours marking the celebration of her 100th birthday, the exhibition offers a record of both private and official life. Among the portraits are evocative charcoal drawings by John Singer Sargent presented to Lady Elizabeth and the Duke of York (later King George VI) on their marriage in 1923. Other works depict events of personal and national significance, such as the Coronation in 1937, Victory Night in 1945 and the Funeral Procession of King George VI in 1952. Queen Elizabeth also acquired drawings with royal connections, such as the three sketches by Sir David Wilkie of Queen Victoria as a girl of twelve, preparatory studies for an oil painting also in her collection.