Our Exhibits

The Vancouver Art Gallery presents exhibitions of work by artists ranging from historic masters to leading-edge contemporaries. These include major thematic exhibitions, presentations of solo artists and smaller, more focused showcases. In a typical year, 2 to 3 exhibitions are borrowed from other institutions and 10 to 12 exhibitions are developed in-house, drawing on our permanent collection and loans of works from around the world. In addition, the Gallery tours a few of its exhibitions each year.

Current Exhibitions

Portrait of the Artist: An Exhibition from the Royal Collection

October 28, 2017 to February 4, 2018


Artemisia Gentileschi
Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting (La Pittura), c. 1638–39
oil on canvas
Photo: Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

Johann Michael Wittmer
Raphael's First Sketch of the 'Madonna della Sedia', 1853
oil on canvas
Photo: Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

Portrait of the Artist: An Exhibition from the Royal Collection presents a remarkable group of more than ninety paintings, drawings, prints, photographs and sculpture highlighting both the enormous richness of the Royal Collection and the complex and deep relationship that the British monarchy has had with artists for the last three and half centuries.

Since the Renaissance, artists have claimed an increasingly central role in visual culture and emerged as individual and identifiable entities. The Royal Collection includes a large group of images of artists–both portraits and self-portraits–that offer keen insights into how artists see themselves and their position in society. Beginning with King Charles I, one of Europe’s greatest art collectors, succeeding British monarchs employed and collected the work of artists, both British and European. The growing respect for artists as creators led to the collecting of artist’s self-portraits and images of artists both at work and playing roles. The exhibition presents a diverse range of works by artist both historical and contemporary artists such as Julia Margaret Cameron, Annibale Carracci, Mary Knowles, Joshua Reynolds and Lucian Freud. Highlights include an extraordinary self-portrait by Sir Edwin Landseer, The Connoisseurs: Portrait of the Artist with Two Dogs, 1865, a sculpture by Sarah Bernhardt presenting herself as a mythological creature, A Self-Portrait as a Chimera, 1880, and one of the most important Italian paintings of the seventeenth century, Artemisia Gentileschi’s iconic, Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting (La Pittura), c. 1638-39. Through these works the exhibition traces the evolving role and importance of artists within society at large.

The Royal Collection is one of most important collections of art in the world. Built over centuries by successive British monarchs and continued today by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the collection includes a remarkable range of objects and works of art. Central to the history of the monarchy has been the role of art, both to define the image of the monarch and to confirm their power, wealth and taste.

This exhibition, which is exclusive to Vancouver, is presented by kind permission of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and helps mark the sesquicentennial of Canada.

The Royal Collection

Organized by Royal Collection Trust and curated by Anna Reynolds, Lucy Peter and Martin Clayton. The coordinating curator is Ian M. Thom, Senior Curator–Historical.

Presenting Sponsor:

Visionary Partner for Historical Exhibitions:
Huaijun Chen and Family

Generously supported by:
Keming Zhou and Ming Li