Art lovers will get a new close-up view of one of Britain's greatest collections from Friday when pieces kept at Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth II's London residence, will be better displayed to the public.
The paintings by Rubens, Van Dyck, Canaletto and others usually hang in the Picture Gallery, one of the palace’s state rooms often used for grand events.
But the old masters’ artworks were cleared out during renovations and moved to a different part of the royal household in London, into the more modern exhibition space of the Queen’s Gallery.
While tourists may have previously spotted the paintings from afar during palace tours, they will now be able to view them up closer with fewer distractions, said Desmond Shawe-Taylor, surveyor of the queen's pictures.
“What this does is bring the paintings down to eye level, put them in stronger lighting in a modern gallery setting and just allow you to focus on them and nothing else,” he said.
The palace is undergoing a 10-year refit to replace ageing electrical wiring, boilers and other infrastructure, a programme that will cost about £370 million ($500m) and is scheduled to finish in 2027.
As part of the work, the 200-year-old roof of the Picture Gallery will be replaced and all its paintings have been removed for the first time in almost 45 years.
The show Masterpieces from Buckingham Palace runs until January 31, 2022.