Charles to treat palace visitors to his 70th birthday pick and mix

Mark Brown Arts correspondent
A curator adjusts a painting from the Prince and Patron exhibition at Buckingham Palace. Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

Prince Charles has chosen a magnificent and intimidating hooded cloak that once belonged to one of the most ardent republicans in history as part an art display at Buckingham Palace to mark his 70th birthday.

Charles has helped select more than 100 objects and works of art for a display that visitors to the annual summer opening of the palace will see from Saturday.

They include contemporary works by artists supported by Charles’s charities as well as a kind of personal top 25 of historical works from the royal collection.

Napoleon’s red cloak: the Berber-inspired garment greatly appealed to Charles during his childhood at Windsor Castle. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

They include The Adoration of the Shepherds, an important painting from the Venetian high renaissance by Jacopo Bassano,which normally hangs at Kensington Palace, and the striking Napoleon cloak that was found abandoned in the imperial baggage carriage after the battle of Waterloo.

The Berber-inspired cloak, thought to have been worn by the emperor during his campaigns in Egypt in the 1790s, was seized as booty and presented to the Prince Regent, later George IV, by Field Marshal Prince Gebhard von Blücher.

The royal collection curator Vanessa Remington said it was an “unmissable” cloak, chosen because of its beauty, craftsmanship and story. “It is a very dramatic piece with a wonderful story behind it which greatly appealed to the Prince of Wales, particularly as a child at Windsor Castle where he was familiar with it.”

The display has been created in the palace’s Ball Supper Room, redesigned into an octagonal-shaped room based on another of Charles’s choices – an 18th century Zoffany painting of the Tribuna of the Uffizi, a magnificent eight-walled room where travellers on the Grand Tour could enjoy works from the collection of the Grand Duke of Tuscany.

Given there are 8,000 oil paintings, 30,000 works on paper and 500,000 decorative arts objects in the royal collection, narrowing it down would have been a challenge for the Prince. “Choosing 25 or so must have been quite a task,” said Remington. “I think what the selection does reflect is that his royal highness has an eye for the best. It is a very diverse selection, but in each case he is looking at the very best of its type.”

Remington said Charles’s choices also reflected his interest in the process of art as well as the finished object. One example is a large preparatory study of Queen Victoria and a faceless Prince Albert by Edwin Landseer.

A painting of Prince Charles looks down on curators preparing a marble bust of Queen Victoria for the exhibition. Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

Remington said the display aimed to show Charles’s longstanding passion for art and his support for young and emerging artists through his three art charities – the Royal Drawing School, the Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts and the Kabul-based Turquoise Mountain, which was founded in 2006 and trains traditional builders and artisans in Afghanistan.

Charles turns 70 on 14 November and, as is the way with royal birthdays and marriages, the public can also buy a range of newly launched official chinaware including a teacup and saucer for £55.

• Prince and Patron is part of a visit to the summer opening of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace 21 July-30 September.