6 Unmissable Works to See at the Picture Gallery in Buckingham Palace

Royal Collection Trust/
Royal Collection Trust/ | © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

Of all the 19 State Rooms in Buckingham Palace, the Picture Gallery is one of the most impressive. It was designed by architect John Nash as part of George IV’s transformation in the 1820s, although the monarch didn’t live to see his vision completed. The 47-metre room was originally designed to display George’s collection, but it now exhibits some of the greatest works of art from throughout the Royal Collection on rotation and is currently focused on Italian, Dutch and Flemish works from around the 17th-century. Here’s a run-down of the must-see pieces.

Royal Collection Trust/

Queen Henrietta Maria –Anthony van Dyck, c.1632

Charles I paid £20 for this portrait of his wife, by the celebrated artist Anthony van Dyck. The artist was already celebrated across The Netherlands and Italy, but he found even greater fame painting the English royal court. This is supposedly his earliest, singular image of the queen, and features incredibly complex detail in the garments and jewellery. Van Dyck later favoured a more simplistic style and often omitted such intricacies.

The Assumption of the Virgin – Peter Paul Rubens, c.1611-2

A Lady at the Virginal with a Gentleman – Johannes Vermeer, c.1660

Despite his worldwide acclaim, there are actually only 34 paintings by Vermeer in existence. This example typifies his masterful skill as a ‘genre painter’, depicting scenes from everyday life that evoke a certain level of intimacy and focusing almost obsessively on recreating light. His use of perspective undoubtedly places the woman at her virginal as the focus, despite having her back turned to us.

Cleopatra with the Asp – Guido Reni, c.1628

During his lifetime Guido Reni was known for depicting beautiful women in anguish, as seen in his image of Cleopatra’s suicide. Her body appears to emanate light, and her composed expression is more of contemplation than of sorrow or fear. Reni increased the dramatic tension by placing her illuminated body against an exceptionally shadowy background as if she is about to be swallowed by the eternal darkness of death.

Portrait of a Man – ­Frans Hals, c.1630

Frans Hal had a brilliant ability to evoke striking, dominant poses full of fantastic vitality and expression. This unknown sitter holds a strident stance that fills the canvas as if he has just turned to face the artist. He holds his gloves in his right hand, which was considered a gesture of friendship (as opposed to being worn) and gives this ambiguous composition a more sociable air.

Agatha Bas – Rembrandt van Rijn, 1641

Rembrandt is considered the ultimate master of Dutch Golden Age painting, known for his incredible rendering of light and shadow and wholly confident, sweeping brushwork. His portrait of Agatha Bas was painted at the height of his fame, a year before he completed The Night’s Watch. This incredible picture blurs the boundary between image and reality, as Bas’s hand rests on a painted frame that mimics its real one, creating the illusion that she is reaching beyond the canvas.

landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article