From: Tate Gallery
Frances Fowle, December 2000
King George V, Accompanied by Queen
Mary, at the Opening of the Modern Foreign and Sargent Galleries at the
Tate Gallery, 26 June 1926
The . . . Galleries . . .were opened . . . amid great pomp and ceremony on 26 June 1926. . . .Financed by Sir Joseph Duveen, director of the Duveen Galleries in New York and son of the celebrated art dealer, J.J. Duveen.
Duveen commissioned the Irish-born artist Sir John Lavery to record the event. . . having recorded the state visit of Queen Victoria to the Glasgow International Exhibition of 1888.
[This painting] is a preliminary study made on the spot for a larger, more detailed painting, also in the Tate collection (Thumbnail), which shows the same event from a different angle. Here Lavery adopts a high viewpoint, taking in the entire length of the Turner Gallery, where the ceremony took place. The sketch is rapidly executed in Lavery's fluid, easy style. According to the Evening News, reporting on the event, it took only twenty minutes for the sketch to take definite form: 'For several minutes the King and Queen watched Sir John Lavery at work and both remarked on the astonishing speed with which the picture was being carried out…The artist explained,…"For pictures of this kind to be of any value…they must be done at once; otherwise the atmosphere of the moment is lost."' . . .
Duveen was closely associated with Lavery from the early 1920s and was responsible for introducing his work to the American public. In 1925 the Duveen Galleries held an exhibition of Lavery portraits, interiors and landscapes which toured America. Later in 1931 Duveen commissioned a large group portrait of a Royal reception at Buckingham Palace.