Published: March 21, 2017
NEW HAVEN, CONN. – The Yale Center for British Art will premiere the first exhibition to explore the instrumental roles of the Hanoverian princesses Caroline of Ansbach (1683-1737), Augusta of Saxe-Gotha (1719-1772) and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1744-1818) – all of whom married into the British royal family – and how they shaped the nation’s society and culture during a time of significant political and social transformation.
Organized by the center in partnership with the UK’s Historic Royal Palaces, “Enlightened Princesses: Caroline, Augusta, Charlotte, and the Shaping of the Modern World” brings together nearly 300 objects from public and private collections across Britain, Europe and the United States.
On view through April 30, the exhibition features works by the artists Hans Holbein the Younger (1497-1543), Mary Delany (1700-1788), Allan Ramsay (1713-1784), Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), George Stubbs (1724-1806), and Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788); craftsmen and designers Anna Maria Garthwaite (1690-1763), Matthew Boulton (1728-1809), and Josiah Wedgwood (1730-1795); and architects William Kent (1685-1748) and William Chambers (1723-1796), among many others.
Elaborate court costumes and jewels, musical manuscripts, botanical and anatomical illustrations, architectural drawings and garden designs, royal children’s artwork and the princesses’ own scientific instruments are showcased. These important works will serve to show how the princesses promoted the arts, sciences, trade and industry, and underline their development of new models of philanthropy, especially to benefit the health of women and the welfare of children. These efforts spurred unprecedented intellectual exchange and social transformation that continues to have significance for us today. “Enlightened Princesses” is making its debut at the center and subsequently will travel to Kensington Palace in London, once home to Caroline and Charlotte, where it will be on view June 22-November 12.
“Caroline, Augusta and Charlotte had sweeping intellectual, social, cultural and political interests, which helped to shape the courts in which they lived, and encouraged the era’s greatest philosophers, scientists, artists and architects to develop important ideas that would guide ensuing generations,” said Amy Meyers, director of the Yale Center for British Art and organizing curator at the center. “The palaces and royal gardens they inhabited served as incubators for enlightened conversation and experimentation, and functioned as platforms to project the latest cultural developments to an international audience. Their innovative contributions across disciplines held great significance centuries ago and continue to inform our lives.”
“Until this point, the contributions of these three princesses have been little understood, and it is the aim of this exhibition to demonstrate how they influenced the interests of their era in the most vibrant of ways. In their engagement and support of many important projects and initiatives, they provided a blueprint for the royal women who followed them – right up to the present. For this, it is our intention to bring to the princesses the attention they deserve,” said Joanna Marschner, senior curator at Historic Royal Palaces and lead curator of the exhibition.
In addition to masterpieces from the Yale Center for British Art and Historic Royal Palaces, “Enlightened Princesses” will present more than 80 works from the Royal Collection, lent by Her Majesty The Queen. In total, nearly 50 esteemed collections will be represented.
The Yale Center for British Art is at 1080 Chapel Street. For additional information, www.britishart.yale.edu or 203-432-2800.
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