New online catalogue reveals stories behind the Royal Collection

Release date: 
Wednesday, 27 April 2005

On 27 April 2005 the Royal Collection launches on its new website ( the first phase of the e-Gallery, a multimedia catalogue of some of the greatest works in the Collection.  From a drawing by Leonardo da Vinci to George IV’s Diamond Diadem, each   object   can   be   enjoyed   in fascinating detail on the e-Gallery. Catalogue entries offer a wealth of information, enhanced by unique contextual material from the Royal Archives and Royal Photograph Collection.

The e-Gallery was originally developed in 2002 for visitors to The Queen’s Galleries at Buckingham Palace and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, providing an interactive version of exhibitions.  The expanded resource is now available to all online, where it can be searched by artist, maker, collector, subject-matter or theme.  The e-Gallery contains material from across the entire Royal Collection, including paintings, drawings and watercolours, furniture and clocks, silver, sculpture, ceramics, jewellery, books and manuscripts, arms and armour. The database currently has entries for over 1,500 items and will be added to regularly.

Special ‘explore’ features on the e-Gallery show automata in motion, how objects were originally used, the complex workings of scientific instruments, hidden compartments in furniture or how conservation has uncovered a painting's original composition. You can discover how George III produced a perfect boiled egg for breakfast by using an ingenious gadget given to him by his daughters on his 66th birthday, or how technical investigation of Rembrandt’s self-portrait of 1642 revealed two earlier self-portraits on the same panel.

Invoices, letters and photographs from the Royal Archives and Royal Photograph Collection provide  an  insight  into  the  commissioning  or  purchase  of  an  object.   For  example,  the e-Gallery entry for the Mosaic Egg, commissioned from Carl Fabergé by Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, reveals the 'surprise' hidden inside the object –  an enamelled medallion decorated with profile portraits of the imperial children, Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia and Alexis. The Mosaic Egg was confiscated during the Russian Revolution and later purchased by the Tsar's cousin, King George V, as a birthday gift for Queen Mary. The invoice from the Royal Archives is shown on the e-Gallery; it is made out to 'H.M.The King' for the sum of £250.

Visit the e-Gallery at

Further information is available from Public Relations and Marketing, the Royal Collection, 020 7839 1377,  Images are available from the Royal Collection’s folder in the Arts section on PA’s Picselect at or through the PA bulletin board.