More than 150 British monarch portraits will go on display at the Bendigo Art Gallery from March next year.
The new major exhibition – Tudors to Windsors: British Royal Portrait – features works on loan from London’s National Portrait Gallery with some never having been seen outside of the United Kingdom.
Bendigo Art Gallery director Karen Quinlan said the gallery secured the exhibition in 2016.
“The relationship with the National Portrait Gallery goes back to 2005. In the last two years we have been working hard to bring it together," she said.
“It is a slice of British history and is a big part of their collection. It is also a very old institution that we are borrowing from, so from one old institution to the Bendigo Art Gallery – which was established in 1887 – we feel very at home with it and know we will do it justice when we display it.
“(This exhibition) promises to bring tourists and people to Bendigo but will also be great for our local community to enjoy the economic benefits of a such a big project.”
Ms Quinlan said the exhibition was an unparalleled collection of British royal portraits to Australia.
“This exhibition presents an opportunity for our audience to experience works by significant artists commencing in the era of Hans Holbein, through to the 21st century with artists such as Chris Levine and Annie Leibovitz,” she said.
“Artists such as Sir Joshua Reynolds, Lord Snowdon, Andy Warhol and Cecil Beaton will be featured as this extraordinary collection reveals a British narrative depicted by some of the most prominent international artists over a 500 year period from the medieval times of Henry Tudor through to the current House of Windsor.”
Tudors to Windsors highlights major events in British and world history from the 16th century to present day.
The royal portraits will allow Bendigo Art Gallery visitors to study the royal family faces of the Tudors, the Stuarts, the Georgians, the Victorians and the Windsors.
Among the many works on view will be portraits of King Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth I, King George III, Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth II, Diana, Princess of Wales, and Prince William and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge.
Ms Quinlan said she believed there would be big interest from both local residents and visitors to Bendigo.
“With the amount of people watching programs like The Crown that focus on the royal family along with the excitement around royal weddings and births – (the royal family) is something we follow,” she said.
“There will be people who aren't interested but if you follow social history and the role portraiture plays in terms of documenting the past, it's an important exhibition.”
National Portrait Gallery director Nicholas Cullinan said he was delighted to see the exhibition tour internationally.
“Royal portraits have long held a special place in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, London,” he said.
“Drawn almost entirely from the Gallery’s collections, this unprecedented exhibition provides visitors to the Bendigo Art Gallery with the opportunity to encounter some of history’s most fascinating personalities as well as many of the most accomplished portraits produced in the last five hundred years.”
The gallery will also be sourcing and unveiling additional pieces to accompany the portraits.
“It's an important 500 years of history. The exhibition features paintings, photographs and official royal portraiture,” she said.
“So we are also sourcing other material from collections in the UK to give the pieces context.”
Tudors to Windsors: British Royal Portraits, organised by the National Portrait Gallery, London, is at Bendigo Art Gallery from March 16 to July 14, 2019.