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Prince of Wales donates art to Masterworks

Royal recognition: the Prince of Wales is to donate a rare print for Masterworks Museum to exhibit and auction. Masterworks director, Tom Butterfield is delighted at the recognition as “a fitting showcase for art endeavours” (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

A rare print of a watercolour by Charles, Prince of Wales is to go on show at the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art.

The heir to the throne donated the artwork, which will be displayed with a video message from him to mark Masterworks’ decade in its Botanical Gardens home.

Charles’s artist’s proof will later be auctioned off to raise funds for Masterworks.

Tom Butterfield, the gallery’s founder and creative director, said he was “overwhelmed” by the news and hoped to have the piece in place for a triple birthday celebration.

He explained museum curator Elise Outerbridge celebrated her 70th birthday last Wednesday, Prince Charles will turn 70 tomorrow and Mr Butterfield will do the same the next Wednesday.

“Of the 70 years that I will soon be having, probably 60 of them have been with the knowledge that His Royal Highness was born a week ahead of me,” Mr Butterfield said.

“He became our principal patron in 2003 and put his name to our efforts.”

Mr Butterfield said Masterworks, a non-profit organisation, contacted the Prince’s team to ask if he would film a short video to welcome visitors to the 10th anniversary exhibition.

He said: “He’s a lover of the arts and he’s a practitioner of the arts as well. If he weren’t king-in-waiting, he would be a very fine artist.

“He really understands the watercolour medium. I’ve seen some of his work first-hand and it’s very impressive.”

Over the course of about a year, Mr Butterfield answered questions, including at an interview at Buckingham Palace, about the museum’s plans for the footage and why the Prince should be involved. He admitted: “At one point I did not think we were going to get it done.”

Prince Charles added a characteristic “personal touch”.

He welcomes “visitors of all ages” and invited them to “appreciate the wealth of artistic creativity these beautiful islands have inspired”.

The Prince said: “As a very amateur watercolourist myself, but even more as one who admires the artistic skill of others, it is clear to me that the second language of creativity is simply essential to our humanity transcending, as it does, the barriers of place and background.

“And providing such a fitting showcase for art endeavours, the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art has brought the finest work of human hands to a place that nature has already blessed with the greatest beauty.”

Mr Butterfield was delighted with the clip but became speechless when he received an e-mail last Tuesday with Prince Charles’s offer of “one of his limited edition artist’s proof lithographs” to display during the exhibition and for later auction.

He said: “I was overwhelmed. You take on that sense of humility, being humbled by it because here’s one of the leading figures — and a recognised one at that — of the 20th and 21st centuries. I was just beside myself.”

He added: “There might be 500 of the limited edition, the artist’s proof might be somewhere in the neighbourhood of ten.”

Mr Butterfield said he hoped to have the work in place for the exhibition’s opening by John Rankin, the Governor, tomorrow.

The show is expected to run for about eight months and the museum team is considering a silent auction before a live bidding event.

A similar contribution several years ago from the Prince attracted $15,000.