Painter Prince Charles prefers watercolors because photography is ‘unsatisfactory’

The largest collection of watercolors by Queen Elizabeth II’s eldest son and heir, Prince Charles, has been exhibited in the UK.

The 79 works feature snow-capped Scottish mountains and the Welsh countryside, French Provencal peaks, Mount Athos in Greece and the Transylvania region of Romania.

The 73-year-old Prince of Wales’ brushes have also conquered the Swiss alpine resorts of Klosters and Saint Moritz as well as the French castle of Le Barroux.

Mountains are a favorite, especially Beinn a’Bhuird in the Cairngorms in the north east of Scotland, which he has painted several times at different times of the year from several angles.

As he explained in notes accompanying the exhibition, which runs until February 14 in the 19th-century Garrison Chapel of the Chelsea Barracks in London, he chose watercolor because he found photography “unsatisfactory”.

“It all requires the most intense concentration and is consequently one of the most relaxing and therapeutic exercises I know of,” he wrote.

Visitors look at watercolor paintings of Britain's Prince Charles at an exhibition entitled 'HRH The Prince Of Wales's Watercolors' at Garrison Chapel in London.  Photo: AFPVisitors look at watercolor paintings of Britain’s Prince Charles at an exhibition entitled ‘HRH The Prince Of Wales’s Watercolors’ at Garrison Chapel in London. Photo: AFP

“In fact, in my case, I think it transports me into another dimension, which literally refreshes parts of the soul that other activities cannot reach …

“I’m not under any illusion that my sketches represent great art or a budding talent! They represent more than anything else my particular kind of ‘photo album’ and as such mean a great deal to me.”

Artistic ‘descent’

Charles, the highest-ranking royal after the 95-year-old queen, has found time in his schedule of official engagements over the past 50 years to paint about 680 watercolors.

He has sometimes signed them AG Carrick – a pseudonym created from the initials of his other first names Arthur and George, and one of his titles, the Earl of Carrick.

London's The Garrison Chapel is where an exhibition of watercolors painted by Britain's Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, is displayed.  Photo: AFP London’s The Garrison Chapel is where an exhibition of watercolors painted by Britain’s Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, is displayed. Photo: AFP

The exhibition’s curator, Rosie Alderton, said Charles came from a “family of artists”.

Charles’ father, Prince Philip, who died in April last year at the age of 99, was a prolific painter, as was Queen Victoria, who ruled from 1837 to 1901, and until Queen Elizabeth II, was Britain’s longest reigning monarch.

None of Charles’ original watercolors have been sold, but the sale of lithographs, including from his estate in Highgrove in the west of England, has brought in huge sums for charity over the years.

All profits from the sale go to the Prince’s Foundation, which organized the Garrison Chapel exhibit, Alderton said.

Fifty of Charles’ watercolors were formerly exhibited at Hampton Court Palace in 1998 to mark his 50th birthday.

Another 30 were exhibited by the National Gallery of Australia in 2018 for his 70th birthday.

Since 2019, the Prince has had some time to devote his passion for painting.

But Alderton said she hoped he would take it up again, even when he becomes king. “His artwork is really lovely and it would be a shame if he did not,” she said. – AFP

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