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Laurits Regner Tuxen (1853-1927)

The Coronation of King Edward VII (1841-1910) Signed and dated 1904

Oil on canvas | 173.0 x 141.1 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external) | RCIN 404487

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  • King Edward VII is seated in Coronation robes on St Edward's throne; he wears the Imperial State Crown, and holds a sceptre in each hand; The Archbishop of Canterbury holds an extended scroll in his right hand.

    The commission for the official picture of the Coronation was given to Edwin Abbey (RCIN 404612); however the King entrusted the Danish artist Laurits Tuxen with a private painting of the King enthroned. This painting depicts the moment when the Archbishop of Canterbury pronounces the Exhortation 'Stand firm and hold fast' and Tuxen's composition cleverly directs the eye straight towards the resolute King's head.

    In the record of the Coronation, Tuxen is categorised as 'Queen Alexandra's Special Artist to the Coronation'. He was found a place in Westminster Abbey by the altar, hidden behind a tomb of Norman knight that gave him an exceptionally close view. Tuxen gives a good account of his trials and tribulations in his letters to his second wife, Frederikke, recounted in his autobiography: 'The church was nearly filled and there was a brilliance of colour, a facet of a rich and mighty country's character is exposed on such an occasion. The scene that I was to represent lasted a very short time, the place was overcrowded, though I viewed everything from the back. It was dark too, but at the moment the King was crowned everything was suddenly bathed in light and splendour'. It is no wonder that Tuxen found it impossible to translate the richness of the setting into paint under such conditions.

    Tuxen painted two other pictures of the Coronation: The Anointing of Queen Alexandra, 1902-3 (RCIN 404466) and The Crowning of Queen Alexandra (1844-1925), 1904 (RCIN 404488). He worked on all three paintings at St James's Palace in mid-June 1903. His attitude to much of this pedestrian work can be gauged in his letter to his wife Frederikke of 11 August, 1902: 'I consider myself on a treadmill, tramping over acres of gold, which it's a shame to admit as it's all so magnificent'. The Regalia, robes and accessories would have been available to Tuxen to incorporate into his pictures. The artist records that the pictures were finished in Copenhagen in first half of 1904 and he then travelled to London to deliver them.

    Text adapted from Laurits Tuxen: Portrait and History Painter, The National History Museum at Frederiksborg Castle, Denmark, 1990
    Provenance

    Commissioned by King Edward VII; Tuxen was paid £800 in 1904 for this painting (WRA: PP1 126/4)

  • Medium and techniques

    Oil on canvas

    Measurements

    173.0 x 141.1 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external)

    217.0 x 186.7 x 15.3 cm (frame, external)

  • Alternative title(s)

    The Coronation of Edward VII, Westminster Abbey, 9th August 1902.