The first exhibition to focus on images of artists from within the Royal Collection, Portrait of the Artist not only showcases self-portraits by world-renowned artists including Rembrandt, Rubens, Artemisia Gentileschi, Lucian Freud and David Hockney but also features images of artists by their friends, relatives and pupils, including the most reliable surviving likeness of Leonardo da Vinci by his student, Francesco Melzi. Well-known self-portraits intended to advertise the artist’s talents are shown alongside more intimate and personal works.
The exhibition examines a range of themes played out within these objects, from the ‘cult’ of the artist to the symbolism evoked through images of the artist’s studio. The changing status of the artist over the centuries is another theme and the way in which this is conveyed, both in the physical works and in the relationships between artist and patron is highlighted. The role of monarchs in commissioning, collecting and displaying portraits of artists is discussed.
Portrait of the Artist contains over 300 objects, including paintings, drawings, prints, photographs and decorative arts ranging in date from the 15th to the 21st century.