Charles & the Visual Arts

King Charles III, a keen artist and specialist in watercolour, has a long-held love of art. His passion led him to cross paths with Derek Hill (LI 1930-33), portrait painter and watercolour tutor and Richard Shirley Smith (CR 1966- 70) former Head of Art whose beautiful engravings decorate the Highgrove Florilegium. Richard’s predecessor, Guy Barton (CR 1945-65) affectionally know to Marlburians as ‘Arty Barty’ specialised in church textile art and embroidery design and examples can be found in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.

Our current Head of Art, Edward Twohig RE (CR 2017 – ), is a member, curator and archivist of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers, and Sir Charles Saumarez Smith CBE (C1 1967-71) is the current Professor of Architectural History at the Royal Academy and Chairman of the Royal Drawing School, which was founded by King Charles in 2000. 

Sir Ellis Waterhouse (C1 1918-23) was the inaugural Director of the National Gallery of Scotland from 1949-52 before becoming Director of the Barber Institute of Fine Art and Barber Chair at Birmingham University. When knighted in 1975 Sir Ellis’ reaction was ‘I was surprised, slightly amused, but on the whole not displeased’.

Artist-illustrator, Keith Henderson OBE (C2 1897-1903) was a member of the Royal Watercolour Society (RWS) and the Royal Society of Portrait Painters (RP). The figurative painter, Susannah Fiennes (LI 1976-78) became the tour artist with Charles in Oman in 1995. In 1997, she was again chosen to tour with the King, on this occasion to Hong Kong to record the handing over of the territory to China. The King funded the tour and, in return, chose which paintings he wished to keep. She toured with him to Argentina, Uruguay and the Falkland Islands in 1999.

In addition, Christopher Lloyd CVO (LI 1959-63) held the office of the Surveyor of the King’s/Queen’s Pictures from 1988-2005. He was responsible for the care and maintenance of the official royal collection of pictures owned by the Sovereign as opposed to those owned privately.  

Art Deco architect, Claude Ferrier (LI 1892-95) was a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects. John Simpson (CO 1970-72) was the architect behind the reinvention and expansion of the Queen’s Royal Gallery at Buckingham Palace. On 21 May 2002, the gallery was reopened by Queen Elizabeth II to coincide with her Golden Jubilee. The expansion created the Doric entrance portico and added new rooms which more than tripled the gallery’s size enabling more of the Royal Collection to be viewed by the public.