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François Flameng (1856-1923)

Queen Alexandra (1844-1925) Signed and dated 1908

Oil on canvas | 254.0 x 132.1 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external) | RCIN 405360

White Drawing Room, Buckingham Palace

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  • This strikingly sophisticated and composed portrait of Queen Alexandra was painted by the French artist François Flameng in 1908. It is perhaps one the highlights of early 20th century royal portraiture. The Queen sits upon a stone step, gazing directly at the viewer; dressed in a white silk dress, diaphanous gauze suggested about her arms and shoulders. She is wearing the riband and star of the Order of the Garter, her collier résille necklace, made by Cartier in 1904, and the Koh-i-nûr in its brooch setting. A wooded landscape and suggestion of a building or castle in the background.

    Sittings to the artist are recorded during February 1908 and on April 9 the Court Circular stated that during their visit to Paris, the Prince and Princess of Wales, the future George V and Queen Mary, had ‘visited the studio of M. Flameng and inspected the portrait of Queen Alexandra which he was commissioned to paint.’ The painting was included in an exhibition of ‘A Selection of Portraits by François Flameng of Ladies Well Known in Society’ held at Agnews from June to July. Further sittings are then recorded on 16, 17 and 18 July at Buckingham Palace. The painting was first hung in the Crimson Drawing Room at Windsor Castle, but was moved to Buckingham Palace in 1949.

    François Flameng was a successful society portraitist who received commissions in Paris, London and New York. Born in Paris on 6 December 1856, he first trained with his father, Leopold, a printmaker, before studying with Cabanal and JP Laurens at the École des Beaux Arts. A full-length portrait of Maria Feodorovna (1847-1928), Queen Alexandra’s younger sister, dated 1894, is in the State Hermitage Museum. A portrait of Lady Duveen, dated 1910, in a white silk dress, is in the Ferens Art Gallery; here the pose is similar, albeit reversed, and a similar shadowy landscape background is included. Painted with the same bravura technique as his contemporaries, John Singer Sargent and Philip de Laszlo, the outside setting and rendering of the silk dress also connect the painting to works by earlier artists such as Peter Lely and Thomas Gainsborough (see RCINs 404514 and 400670).

    Provenance

    Commissioned by Queen Alexandra

  • Medium and techniques

    Oil on canvas

    Measurements

    254.0 x 132.1 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external)

    304.0 x 192.0 x 14.0 cm (frame, external)