The King’s Staircase
William Kent's recreation of court
The walls of the King's Staircase were painted by William Kent as a vivid recreation of George I’s court. Kent received £500 for the work and it depicts a lively 18th-century court full of intriguing and unexpected characters.
The paintings were completed by Kent in 1724 and replaced plained wooden panneling installed by Christopher Wren. Kent also included a picture of himself in the painting, he is on the celiing wearing a brown turban and holding an artist's palette.
Along with the Yeomen of the Guard, Kent’s painting includes the King’s Polish page Ulric, the King’s Turkish servants Mahomet and Mustapha, Peter ‘the wild boy’ – a feral child found in the woods in Germany – and a portrait of himself, with his mistress at his shoulder, looking down from the ceiling.
‘I love the King’s Staircase because while it is so grand, William Kent’s painting also shows another side of royal life. It is lovely to see there were children at the court…they look at you look over the painted banisters as you walk up the stairs.’ Joanna Marschner, Kensington Palace Curator