The King’s Staircase

This grand entrance to the King's State Apartments is a must see

This grand entrance to the King's State Apartments is a must see

When

  • Open daily

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Redesigning the King's Staircase 

The walls of the King's Staircase were painted by William Kent as a vivid recreation of George I’s court. The artwork depicts a lively 18th-century court full of intriguing and unexpected characters.

In Georgian times, visitors to court could only enter if their clothes and jewels passed muster with the guards. Some of the guards in their red uniforms stand among the figures of the arcade painted on the walls, many of them identifiable as members of the royal court.

The staircase paintings were completed by Kent in 1724 and replaced rather more plain wooden panelling installed by Sir Christopher Wren. Kent included a picture of himself in the painting. Look out for him on the ceiling with his mistress at his shoulder, wearing a brown turban and holding an artist's palette.

The colourful characters of George I's court

Along with the Yeomen of the Guard, Kent’s painting includes the King’s Polish page Ulric and the King’s Turkish servants Mahomet and Mustapha. It also includes Peter ‘the wild boy’, a feral child found in the woods in Germany.

The imaginary architecture of the staircase painting was inspired by work that Kent had seen in the palaces of Rome where he trained. The painted figure of Diana on the top landing is a copy of a real antique statue. The original is at Holkham Hall in Norfolk.

'I love the King’s Staircase because while it is so grand, William Kent’s painting also shows another side of royal life.'

Joanna Marschner, Kensington Palace Curator

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