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“We walk away and shuffle off our mortal coil, but these things live on. That’s what is so riveting, I think, about looking at other members of my family in the past. It’s this feeling that you know there they were, you can sense them sitting doing the painting and everything else and then that stays behind. It’s still you; it’s a part of you that stays there when the rest has gone.”- HRH The Prince of Wales
"When I first came across Queen Victoria's painting kit, as a filmmaker and watercolour painter myself, I was amazed to find out that 150 years ago she was an artist. Her great-great-great grandson, HRH The Prince of Wales also enjoys painting as a pastime, and for the first time on film he agreed to tell me the extraordinary story of the tradition of creating art in his family through the ages. In my search, I discovered dozens of talented artists, revealing an amazing treasure trove of creativity by Royal hands." - Margy Kinmonth, Director
In Royal Paintbox, the Prince of Wales reveals an extraordinary treasure trove of work by his forebears, many of whom were accomplished amateur artists, and traces his family's love of painting through the generations. This story is brought to the screen for the first time by award-winning film-maker Margy Kinmonth, who produced and directed Looking For Lowry in the Perspectives strand for ITV.
Set against the spectacular landscapes of the royal estates and with contributions from Countess Mountbatten of Burma; professional working artist Sarah Armstrong-Jones, daughter of Princess Margaret, speaking in her first ever interview on film; Royal Academy of Arts chief executive and secretary Charles Saumarez Smith; Royal biographers Lady Antonia Fraser (author of Mary Queen of Scots), Jehanne Wake, and Jane Ridley; Royal tour artists Susannah Fiennes and Warwick Fuller, historian Marina Warner and Lady Roberts, Librarian at Royal Collection Trust, Royal Paintbox contains insights into The Prince of Wales's own watercolours, and other works by members of the Royal Family past and present.
Speaking about what inspires him to paint, The Prince of Wales says:
"I think, you know, drawing from nature, observing from nature, is absolutely crucial. I’ve obviously been inspired by just looking. It’s usually the light, is what catches my attention. You can look at the same view over and over again and then suddenly one moment, there’s the most magical light.”
The Prince recounts how, as a teenager, the great art which lined the walls of the Royal residences in which he grew up suddenly came alive to him.
“Because when you are small you rush about, you know, pedalling or something up and down the corridors, and you notice nothing. It’s just a background. Suddenly, literally and I must have been 14 or something, suddenly all the pictures on the walls, the furniture, suddenly all came into focus. Do you know what I mean? And they had just been blurred sort of backgrounds which were just there. Then suddenly I started looking.”
The Prince of Wales takes the viewer on a journey into his family archives to reveal works of art by members of the Royal Family - including HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, Mary Queen of Scots, the prolific work of King George III in the 18th Century, Prince Louis of Battenberg who it is said could have been a professional artist, as well as Queen Alexandra, King Edward VII, Princess Louise, Prince Rupert of The Rhine, the Dukes of Sussex and of Cumberland - and a lino cut of a circus horse done by Her Majesty The Queen as a child.
The audience discovers in the film that Queen Victoria drew and painted thousands of sketches and watercolours during her long life.
The film also shows how professional, contemporary artist Sarah Armstrong-Jones, the daughter of Princess Margaret, brings the Royal Paintbox story up to date with the inclusion of her paintings and drawings inspired by landscape, with an exhibition of her work at the Redfern Gallery in London.
She maintains that the family link must have helped her talent develop.
“It must come down, you know, I hope we can pass it down to the next generation.”
As an active Patron of the arts, The Prince of Wales is keen to create a record of his foreign tours that goes beyond photography. For over 25 years, The Prince has invited an artist to join the tour party at his own expense.In Australia, artist Warwick Fuller is seen at work on a new oil painting. Former tour artist Susannah Fiennes provides her perspective on the Prince’s passion for art.
“So much of the time he’s on duty and painting allows him a little time for quiet reflection and also a bit of an investigation of things at a deeper level than his whirlwind existence normally allows.”
The Prince shows a selection of the paintings he has done while abroad, and demonstrates a work-in-progress while explaining the power and appeal painting holds for him.
“Painting is almost meditative in the sense that that you enter another world, it’s most extraordinary, everything else is excluded. And you become so absorbed, I suppose meditation is concentration really.”
Children from the Prince’s Drawing School in London are shown in class learning new artistic skills. The school was set up by The Prince of Wales to raise the standard and profile of drawing through teaching and practise.
“If you don’t have that training, I suppose, you don’t have that base of encouraging someone to use their eye, then you miss an awful lot of the world around us.”
Finally, The Prince of Wales’s godmother, Countess Mountbatten of Burma, pays tribute to the Royal painting dynasty in which he is now a key part.
“I think Prince Charles has developed enormously of course as an artist and it’s always nice to discover you’ve perhaps inherited something from earlier generations, which I’ve no doubt he has.”
A Margy Kinmonth Film
This film is a foxtrotfilms.com production coproduced with Andrei Konchalovsky for ITV.
Note to editors:
In addition to the ITV programme Royal Paintbox, a Royal Collection Trust exhibition entitled Royal Paintbox: Royal Artists Past and Present, at Windsor Castle this summer, charts the history of royal artists through the centuries, through works by George III and Queen Victoria and their children, and by members of the current Royal Family. A selection of watercolours by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales is also included. The Prince, who is Chairman of The Royal Collection Trust, has described how his love of painting was inspired by his early years at Windsor Castle surrounded by great art.
The Drawings Gallery, Windsor Castle: 22 June 2013 – 24 January 2014
The exhibition Royal Paintbox: Royal Artists Past and Present is part of a visit to Windsor Castle.