Art, Passion and Power: The Story of the Royal Collection

Art, Passion and Power: The Story of the Royal Collection

The Royal Collection is the last great art collection acquired by any of the royal families of Europe to have survived into the twenty-first century. Containing over a million art pieces and precious objects, it not only contains work by some of the world’s most famous artists, but it also reveals the personal history, tastes, and obsessions of the British monarchy over the last 500 years.

Watch Art, Passion and Power: The Story of the Royal Collection and more acclaimed documentaries on BBC Select today. Restrictions apply*.

Art, Passion and Power: The Story of the Royal Collection on BBC Select

Episode 1: Dangerous Magic
How art was used by Henry VIII and Charles I, the great founders of the Royal Collection.

The two great monarchs who founded the Royal Collection projected their personalities through art. Henry VIII tried to overwhelm with magnificence, but for Charles I art was a way to compete with other kings through taste. Andrew Graham-Dixon investigates the early history of the Royal Collection and reveals how artists such as Titian and Tintoretto changed the way Britain viewed painting.

Episode 2: Paradise Regained
Charles I’s execution signaled the end of the collection. But it was soon resurrected.

In the year 1660, something miraculous began to happen. After the execution of King Charles I, the Royal Collection was sold off and artworks scattered across Europe. But with the restoration of Charles II, the monarchy was back. Andrew Graham-Dixon tells the story of the collection’s remarkable resurrection, when some of history’s most important artists returned to adorn royal palace walls.

Episode 3: Palaces and Pleasuredomes
Exploring George IV’s extravagant taste and Victoria and Albert’s shared love of art.

The flamboyant George IV was known for his ballooning debts and waistline. But, as Andrew Graham-Dixon argues, he was also one of the great artistic figures of the Romantic age, collecting vitally important artists. For Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, collecting was an integral part of their happy marriage. They also believed that learning how to make art was the best way to understand it.

Episode 4: Modern Times
How art was used to steady the ship of British monarchy through an uncertain age.

In the 20th century, many European royal families vanished due to world wars and revolutions. This is the story of the British monarchy’s remarkable survival. And, as Andrew Graham-Dixon discovers, it’s also an age when women took charge of royal collecting. From Victoria to Elizabeth II, queens have used art to steady the ship of the monarchy through uncertain periods of history.

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