WILLIAMSBURG, Va., March 31, 2009 – “King George III in Coronation Robes,” an 18th-century portrait of the British monarch who was a key figure during the American Revolution, has been acquired with private funds for future exhibit at the Yorktown Victory Center, a state-operated history museum.
Measuring more than 8 feet by 5 feet, the portrait is from the studio of Allan Ramsay, who served as Principal Painter in Ordinary at the royal court. The oil-on-canvas painting is an exact copy made by Ramsay’s studio between 1762 and 1784 of the original 1762 portrait, now in the Royal Collection of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The full-length portrait shows King George in ermine-trimmed, golden-silk-damask robes, which he had worn at his 1760 coronation, and is in an ornamented gilt frame topped with a crown.
“This is a signature addition to our collection as we plan for new exhibition galleries at the Yorktown Victory Center,” said Senior Curator Sarah Meschutt. “The portrait will anchor the beginning of our story, when all external affairs of the American colonies were controlled by King George III and the British Parliament.
It is an official portrait of the new king as head of state and the British Empire.”
Many versions of this portrait of King George were produced by Ramsay’s studio for government and diplomatic reception rooms in Europe and America. Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1713, Ramsay studied in London and Italy and achieved fame as a portraitist in his twenties. He was appointed a principal painter by the king in 1761. He attained the title “Principal Painter in Ordinary” in 1767 and held the post until his death in 1784.
Preliminary architectural and exhibit design work is under way for a new Yorktown Victory Center. An approximately 80,000-square-foot building will house expanded exhibition galleries, classroom and event space, visitor services, gift shop and support functions. Improvements to the museum’s re-created Continental Army encampment and 1780s farm also are planned.
“We are thrilled with this major acquisition early in the process of enhancing the Yorktown Victory Center collection,” said Sue H. Gerdelman, president of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, Inc., the not-for-profit entity that coordinates private fundraising in support of programs of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, the state agency that operates the Yorktown Victory Center and Jamestown Settlement.
“Artifacts are vital to our work to effectively educate visitors about colonial America,” Mrs. Gerdelman said. “Only private funds are used to acquire artifacts for exhibit, and a public-private partnership is critical to the success of the Yorktown Victory Center project.”
Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, the Yorktown Victory Center chronicles the American Revolution and the formation of the new nation through gallery exhibits and outdoor living history. For more information, call (757) 253-4838 or visit hif.ciniva.net .