Prince Charles exhibits dozens of his watercolors and says that the painting ‘refreshes the soul’


Written by Oscar Holland, CNN

At the largest exhibition of his watercolors to date, painting enthusiast Prince Charles has described the restorative benefits of art, saying it “transports me to another dimension.”

The heir to the British throne went on to say that painting is “one of the most relaxing and therapeutic exercises I know of,” adding that his hobby “refreshes parts of the soul that other activities cannot reach.”

The watercolors are on display in the Garrison Chapel at the Chelsea Barracks in London.

The watercolors are on display in the Garrison Chapel at the Chelsea Barracks in London. Credit: courtesy Richard Ivey

The comments are displayed on an exhibition panel at a new show that brings together 79 of the prince’s landscape paintings. Exhibiting in London until mid-February, the works show scenes from the French countryside, the Scottish Highlands and Tanzania, which is “one of the prince’s favorite places to paint”, according to a press release from his charity, The Prince’s Foundation.

“I started painting solely because I found photography less than satisfactory,” he is quoted as saying. “Quite simply, I experienced an overwhelming urge to express what I saw through the watercolor medium and to convey the almost ‘inner’ feeling of texture that is impossible to achieve through photography.”

"Views of the South of France," by HRH Prince of Wales.

“See in the South of France,” by HRH Prince of Wales. Credit: courtesy Richard Ivey

Like his tip-tip great-grandmother, Queen Victoria I, the prince is an “avid watercolor painter” who “paints when his schedule allows,” according to his official website. He regularly depicts the royal family’s estates, including Balmoral Castle and Sandringham House, and has also produced watercolors in Turkey, Nepal and the Swiss Alps.

In the exhibition text, the prince admitted that he is “shaken by how bad” his early works were.

“I’m under no illusion that my sketches represent great art or a budding talent!” he added. “They represent more than anything else my particular kind of ‘photo album’ and as such mean a great deal to me.”

During a royal tour of Japan, Prince Charles sits to paint a watercolor in the garden of the Imperial Palace in Kyoto.

During a royal tour of Japan, Prince Charles sits to paint a watercolor in the garden of the Imperial Palace in Kyoto. Credit: Tim Graham / Tim Graham Photo Library / Getty Images

Although the prince does not sell his watercolors, lithographs of his works are used to raise money for his charity. In 2016, the British Daily Telegraph reported that he had sold them for approximately £ 2 million ($ 2.7 million) from a store in his Highgrove House residence.

In 1994, Britain’s Royal Mail showed Charles’ landscape paintings on a series of stamps marking 25 years since the ceremony, formally recognizing him as the Prince of Wales. The National Gallery of Australia also exhibited several of his works in 2018 to mark his 70th birthday. Two decades earlier, on his 50th birthday, about 50 of his watercolors were on display in Hampton Court Palace, the residence of his ancestor Henry VIII.

"Huna Mill, John O'Groats," by HRH Prince of Wales.

“Huna Mill, John O’Groats,” by HRH Prince of Wales. Credit: courtesy Richard Ivey

In a press release, the curator of the new London exhibition, Rosie Alderton, said the prince “likes to sit in the actual environment and paint ‘a plein air’,” adding: “His passion for creating beautiful art is strongly conveyed in this exhibition.”

The watercolors are displayed in the Garrison Chapel in the Chelsea Barracks, a converted barracks in London’s exclusive Belgravia district. Also on display is a tapestry based on one of the prince’s paintings, “Abandoned Cottage on the Isle of Stroma,” which it took weaver Ben Hymer’s eight months to complete.

Top image: HRH Prince Charles paints a watercolor in Klosters, Switzerland.

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