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William Augustus Rieder (1796-1880)

Princes Ferdinand (1816-85) and Augustus (1818-81) of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha when children c.1824

Oil on canvas | 44.0 x 36.8 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external) | RCIN 403689

Prince Consort's Dressing Room & Writing Room, Osborne House

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  • This portrait depicts two first cousins of Queen Victoria: Prince Ferdinand (1816-1885), later King Consort of Portugal, and Prince Augustus (1818-1881), later Major General in the Austrian Service. The elder of the two brothers, Prince Ferdinand, is seen here dressed in green with a sword slung about his hips; his younger brother wears the same quasi-military apparel as his sibling. A blue velvet feathered hat is tucked under Prince Augustus’ right arm. Each boy wears a cloak fastened at the shoulders and thrown open at the front to expose gold martial braid facings and belts. An aperture divides the stone interior in which the princes stand from the dark sky and mountain range beyond. In 1836 the two brothers visited their aunt, the Duchess of Kent, at Kensington thus breaking their journey to Lisbon where Prince Ferdinand was to commence married life. The sixteen-year-old Princess Victoria was enraptured by her cousins and confided in her Journal that ‘during the evening dear Ferdinand came and sat near me and talked so dearly and so sensibly. I do so love him […] I think Ferdinand handsomer than Augustus, his eyes are so beautiful’ (Journal, Royal Archives). However, when a second pair of cousins – Princes Albert and Ernest – visited Kensington later that year, Victoria observed: ‘Dearly as I love Ferdinand and also good Augustus, I love Ernest and Albert more than them, oh yes, much more’ (Journal, Royal Archives). William Augustus Rieder became Professor of Figure Drawing at the Vienna Academy in 1825 and subsequently Keeper of the Belvedere Gallery in 1857 after a lengthy sojourn in Italy. Primarily a painter of religious works, Rieder executed few portraits during his career, the most important being a likeness of the composer Franz Schubert (1797-1828). Employed by Archduke Ludwig Viktor of Austria (1842-1919), it is likely that Rieder was selected for the commission as a well-established Viennese artist in a time when the city was the chief place of residence for the sitters.

    Bequeathed to Queen Victoria by the Duchess of Kent, 1861

  • Medium and techniques

    Oil on canvas


    44.0 x 36.8 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external)

    64.0 x 56.4 x 6.5 cm (frame, external)

  • Category
    Object type(s)
  • Alternative title(s)

    Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha, later Fernando II of Portugal (1816-85) & Prince Augustus of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha (1818-81)