We review a double header of exhibitions at the Queen's Gallery.
Masters of the Everyday
One painting alone in this exhibition makes it worth visiting — Rembrandt's Old Woman is an exquisite piece, and we can never get enough of the artist's gloomy style, which takes pleasure in examining every crack and crevice of a face.
It's not the only talking point in this exhibition, which contains an array of Dutch painting. This fine collection centres around how British and Dutch royalty were brought together through inter-marriage in the 17th century, resulting in Dutch painters and paintings coming across to Britain, and capturing what they saw here.
There are bawdy bars, landscapes, Dutch merchant ships on fire and some more wonderfully dark and moody scenes. None can match the heady heights of Rembrandt, but this is a nice mix nonetheless.
The Comic Art of Thomas Rowlandson
The Queen's Gallery's other exhibition also has a royal link but the similarities end there. Thomas Rowlandson was a political cartoonist and some of his work featured in the excellent Bonaparte and the British at the British Museum.
There are a few striking works here; Napoleon sitting opposite death, one contemplating the other as dead soldiers are strewn behind them on the battlefield. Other works are often hard to get into though; even if the nuances of the politics and royalty at the time are made crystal clear to the viewer, many of the jokes still fail to hit the mark.
Rowlandson, in many ways, was a product of his time and a modern audience may fail to appreciate his work. We definitely felt underwhelmed.
Both Masters of the Everyday: Dutch Artists in the Age of Vermeer and High Spirits: The Comic Art of Thomas Rowlandson are on at The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace until 14 February 2016. Tickets are £10 for adults, concessions available and include entry to both exhibitions. The gallery is open daily 10am to 5.30pm.