Buckingham Palace’s Picture Gallery has been emptied for the first time in 45 years ahead of works as part of the palace’s ongoing refurbishment.
The Royal Collection Trust shared a timelapse video on Twitter which showed how the Picture Gallery, which has been the backdrop to many receptions at the Palace, was emptied of its timeless paintings.
Experts from the Trust have spent the last month carefully taking down pieces of art one by one ahead of refurbishment work as part of Buckingham Palace’s £369million upgrade.
The Picture Gallery is usually home to beautiful works by Titian, Vermeer and Rembrandt, but these will be securely stored until the Gallery has been refurbished. It is the first time it has been left to sit empty since 1975.
The Palace’s refurbishment, which started in 2019, took a short break this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, but has now resumed and is set to be completed by 2027.
Pictured: Buckingham Palace’s Picture Gallery has been emptied of its timeless paintings as part of the Palace’s £369million refurbishment
The Gallery, which has been the backdrop of many events and receptions at the Palace, has been the home to 65 paintings since the 1820s
The Picture Gallery was originally designed by the architect John Nash for King George IV. It was intended to showcase his collection of Dutch, Flemish and Italian Old Master paintings.
‘Our team has spent the last month carefully emptying the #BuckinghamPalace Picture Gallery of paintings from the Royal Collection ready for a selection to be displayed in our new exhibition,’ the Royal Collection Trust shared on Twitter.
An impressive timelapse showed the Trust’s experts working steadfastly to prepare the gallery for its refurbishment, taking down its 65 pieces of art from the state room.
The video revealed the gallery floor has been covered in a protective layer as the art handlers used scaffolding towers and ladders to reach the historic paintings.
Royal Collection Trust conservators have been working throughout last month to remove all paintings with the care they deserve (pictured)
Conservators were photographed removing Rembrandt’s ‘The Shipbuilder and his Wife’ ahead of the works. The gallery was designed for King George IV
Paintings were taken down ahead of the work. The gallery’s roof will be restored and old pipes will be re-serviced for the first time since the second World War
Further pictures revealed all staff wore masks while they worked to ready the Gallery for its much-anticipated update.
In with the new! What work needs doing to protect the Palace?
The Reservicing Programme will replace:
- 100 miles of electrical cabling.
- 6500 electrical sockets.
- 5000 light fittings.
- 330 distribution boards (fuse boxes).
- 20 miles heating pipework.
- 10 miles hot and cold water pipework.
- 2500 radiators.
- 500 pieces of sanitary ware.
- 20 miles of skirting board.
- 30,000m² floorboards taken up, equivalent to 3.5 football pitches
Old Master paintings have hung in the room since it was first created for George IV in the 1820s.
The beautiful cream rug that covered the Gallery’s floor was also removed ahead of the works.
As part of the refurbishment, the Gallery’s 200-year-old roof will be replaced, and pipes will be removed.
Some of the Palace State Room’s have not been updated since the Second World War.
The Royal Family has been sharing updates of the massive Palace refurbishment on their Instagram page since works started last year.
Back in February, a series of videos were posted to the Royal Family’s Instagram account, showing the renovation work being carried out in the Palace’s East Wing, which aims to make its plumbing, heating and electricity cabling more cost-efficient.
The clip reveals that such work has not been carried out at Buckingham Palace since the 1950s, as snaps show old newspapers dating back to 1954 and old packs of cigarettes found in the wing.
The Wing has been stripped of its flooring, furniture and 3,000 pieces of artwork and artefacts, and its floorboards will all be lifted ahead of the re-servicing of the old pipes and wires in the palace’s biggest refurbishment since WWII.
The bill for the refurbishment will be met by taxpayers via the Sovereign Grant – the annual fee paid by the Government to the monarch – which this year came to £42million – with a third of the cash set aside for maintaining Royal palaces.
The gallery pictured in 1947. Some of the infrastructure in the Picture Gallery has not been updated since the World War II
Royally empty! A picture shows the gallery after it was stripped of its 65 paintings and its beautiful cream rug ahead of the refurbishment
Conservators removed all paintings, including Vermeer’s ‘A Lady at the Virginal with a Gentleman’ (pictured) throughout October
King George IV wanted a room to showcase his impressive collection of Dutch painters, including Allori’s ‘Judith with the Head of Holofernes’
Rembrandt’s ‘Agatha Bas’ is being carefully removed from the Gallery by conservators. The room’s essential infrastructure has not been updated for the past 70 years
Buckingham Palace restoration: Who’s footing the £369million bill?
The works will cost the taxpayer millions as the total total bill is expected to reach £369million.
The Sovereign Grant, which comes from general taxation, will be hiked up during renovation period to cover the costs.
And while there has been complaint about the taxpayers footing the bill, the palace will continue to operate as usual, generating millions for the economy through tourism and events.
The Queen currently gets an amount which is equivalent to 15 per cent of the profits from the Crown Estate, but this will increase to 25 per cent.
Buckingham Palace, originally Buckingham House, was built in 1703 and has been extended out ever since.
But many of the wires and inner workings which keep it functioning are becoming old and in need of replacement – hence the huge project.
The master of the Queen’s household overseeing the £369 million refurbishment of Buckingham Palace has vowed to stay within budget and time on the gigantic project.
The Picture Gallery pictured before the paintings were removed. It has been sitting empty of visitors due to covid-19 and has now been emptied of its paintings
The ‘Agatha Bas’ painting by Rembrandt being carefully lifted from the floor by masked conservators during the emptying of the Gallery
Usually, visitors are welcomed to admire the state room, which has been the backdrop of many receptions throughout the years (pictured)
The furniture lining the walls of the gallery, including the sitting bench (right) have also been removed in order to protect them from the works
One masterpiece at the time! Conservators escort a painting out of the room. The Buckingham Palace refurbishment started in 2019 and is set to continue until 2027
Visitors walking through the Gallery with guides in 1994. Visitors will have to wait until the refurbishment is over to flock to see its paintings again
The gallery has also hosted several reception, inclduing this dinner hosted by the Queen in 2018, which saw heads of Commonwealth nations and members of the royal family dine together