Many tourists staying in central London hotels will want to pay a visit to the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II, Buckingham Palace, and while they're in the neighbourhood they can peruse the royal family's impressive art collection at the Queen's Gallery.
This week, the gallery is launching a major new exhibition that will run until the autumn. In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion offers visitors the opportunity to step into the age of Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and beyond, coming face to face with the elegant and extravagant sartorial artifacts that characterised two of English history's most significant dynasties.
Focusing on fashion at court, the exhibition looks at the resplendent gowns, corsets and doublets worn by monarchs and their inner circles, celebrated and infamous alike. "Royalty and the elite were the taste-makers of the day, often directly influencing the styles of fashionable clothing," says the gallery, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in a world where every trinket was carefully calculated to express the wearer's social status and advancement.
Exhibits include garments, jewellery, accessories and even pieces of armour – no less important a signifier of the monarch's status and power.
Fittingly, the Tudor and Stuart periods saw some of the most iconic English portraiture ever committed to canvas and a number of important paintings will hang alongside the other objects. These include works by in-demand artists like Hans Holbein the Younger, Nicholas Hillard, Van Dyck and Peter Lely, many of which are sure to be immediately familiar to those with even the slightest interest in English art.
In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion kicks off on Friday (May 10th) and the Queen's Gallery is open daily between 10am and 5:30pm. Admission, which includes an audio tour of the exhibition, is priced at £9.50 for adults and £4.80 for under-17s.