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News Release - Issued by the Beningbrough Hall

Royals return to York with a new selection of striking contemporary portraits.

Following its success in 2014, a new collection of royal portraits from the National Portrait Gallery is heading to York for a final year of the season-long display at the National Trust’s Beningbrough Hall, Gallery and Gardens.

Royals: then and now features work by internationally renowned artists and photographers with a selection of new portraits never seen at the hall before. The work will be on display throughout 2015, from Saturday 28 February until 1 November.

Highlights include the first commissioned painting by the National Portrait Gallery in 1980 of Prince Charles by Bryan Organ. A striking acrylic on canvas, it shows the heir in a relaxed pose and costume, shortly before his engagement to Lady Diana Spencer was announced. The display also features American photographer Annie Leibovitz who took a series of photographs of Queen Elizabeth II to mark the state visit to America in 2007. The Queen is shown wearing an Admiral’s boat cloak in the grounds of Buckingham Palace against a brooding sky and the result is a very atmospheric portrait.

A selection of new photographs in the display include the dashing 21st birthday portrait of Prince William by Mario Testino and a relaxed and smiling Duchess of Cambridge with members of the Great Britain hockey team in 2012, by Jillian Edelstein. A similar relaxed atmosphere is in the 1989 commissioned portrait of Diana, Princess of Wales by David Bailey; both show an informal side to the monarchy. In contrast, Jason Bell’s portrait to mark the Christening of Prince George is a formal group shot and emphasises the royal dynasty showing the current monarch and three heirs.

The striking close up of the Queen ‘Lightness of Being’ was a popular part of the display in 2014. The portrait is a lenticular print, which is created using a specialist photographic technique that gives the image a three-dimensional effect when viewed from different angles. For 2015 this will be replaced with ‘Equanimity’ by Chris Levine and Rob Munday. Commissioned by the Island of Jersey in 2004 to commemorate the 800 years of allegiance to the crown, the three-dimensional portrait took two sittings and was created from over 10,000 images.

Other portraits remaining on display due to their popularity include the 12 foot tall ‘The Royal Family: A Centenary Portrait’ by John Wonnacott looking perfectly proportioned in the double-height Great Hall and a quartet of Andy Warhol’s pop art silkscreen prints hanging in the grandly ornate baroque saloon.

Beningbrough Hall has been a northern home for a substantial collection of the National Portrait Gallery’s eighteenth-century portraits since 1979. Royals: then and now introduces contemporary art to Beningbrough integrated throughout the historic spaces of a 300 year old hall. The display continues the celebration of the the 300th anniversary of the accession of George I, the first monarch of the House of Hanover, by hanging portraits of today’s royal family in the context of their ancestors. Bringing together portraits of royal sitters from George I to Prince George of Cambridge, the display invites questions about change and continuity in royal representation.

David Morgan, General Manager at Beningbrough Hall, said:
“Through the partnership with the National Portrait Gallery we are able to bring some of the most sought after and culturally important pieces of royal portraiture from the national collection to Yorkshire. We are a unique National Trust property offering a historic hall, art gallery, garden and parkland. This fascinating display has been refreshed for its final year and I hope is something that visitors will enjoy as part of their day with us.”

Ms Pim Baxter, Deputy Director, National Portrait Gallery, London, says: ‘We are delighted that visitors to one of our regional partners, the National Trust’s Beningbrough Hall, are able to enjoy a continuing display of the Gallery’s portraits of royal sitters, with some key additions for this second year. The portraits are imaginatively displayed offering a wonderful opportunity to see them in the setting of this great country house.’

The royal theme will continue throughout Beningbrough with a series of themed tours around the garden and below stairs, talks in the hall, special catering and retail ranges with specific lines from the National Portrait Gallery in London. There is also a family trail around the hall and gardens starring Clarence the Corgi, to help younger visitors discover art and the collection.

Beningbrough Hall, Gallery and Gardens opens Tuesday - Sunday from 28 February – 1 November. Plus open extra on Bank Holidays and Mondays in July and August. For more information, tel: 01904 472027 or visit


Notes to editors:

For more information, to book a visit or for images to use, please contact:

Jo Parker
01904 472017/472027

For more information on Beningbrough Hall, Gallery and Gardens

twitter: @NTBeningbrough

About National Trust:
The National Trust looks after more than 250,000 hectares of countryside, 710 miles of coastline and hundreds of historic places across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. For more information and ideas for great value family days out go to:

About the National Portrait Gallery:
The Gallery was founded in 1856 to collect portraits of famous British men and women. Explore over 195,000 portraits from the 16th Century to the present day