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Philip Alexius de László (1869-1937)

Princess Beatrice (1857-1944), when widow to Prince Henry of Battenberg (1896-1944) Signed and dated VIII 1926

Oil on canvas laid down on board | 40.8 x 32.85 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external) | RCIN 408392

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  • This study portrait depicts Princess Beatrice in profile to the left, wearing a blue gown lined with fur; wearing a pearl choker and drop earrings, dark background.

    The Hungarian born, society portraitist Philip Alexius de László first met Princess Beatrice when painting members of the Spanish Royal Family in Madrid in 1910. He had painted her brother in law, Louis of Battenberg in 1909-10 (RCIN 405976), and had already painted a half-length portrait of the Princess in 1912.

    On 12 August, 1926 de László and his wife Lucy went to stay with Princess Beatrice at Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight. While there the artist embarked on a small, rather severe, head study of the Princess Beatrice, depicting the sitter full face. However, the study was abandoned; remaining in the artist's studio until his death. This work is a similar size to the disregarded work, however, it depicts the Princess in profile, which is unusual for de László ; she is wearing the same choker, possibly inherited from Queen Victoria. As Matthew Dennison, author of 'The Last Princess', wrote: '[it] is a handsome image showing her in profile, her face thinner with age; not crushed by the years but wise and kindly, staring in to the distance, as always in Beatrice's case avoiding contact with the viewer.'

    In the 1908 portrait of the Princess in the National Portrait Gallery by Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida (NPG 5166), she appears to be wearing the same choker, with pendant pearls. This too is nearly a profile portrait.

    Princess Beatrice was the youngest daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Known as 'Baby' by the Queen, she became her mother's constant companion following the death of Prince Albert. Queen Victoria was reluctant to allow her to marry, however, in 1884, following the marriage of Queen Victoria's niece, Victoria of Hesse to Prince Louis of Battenberg, Princess Beatrice announced her intention to marry his brother, Henry. The couple were married at Whippingham Church, near Osborne House on the Isle of Wight on 23 July 1885. Prince Henry was promptly appointed Governor of the Isle of Wight. However, he was bored by life on the island and in 1895 he left to fight in the second Ashanti war. It was here that he contracted a fever and died in January 1896, aged 37. Princess Beatrice was then appointed by Queen Victoria as Governor of the island and continued to be the Queen's companion and unofficial private secretary.

    When the Queen died in 1901 she bequeathed to the Princess her private journal with the instruction that she edit it ruthlessly. This she dutifully carried out for the rest of her life. She died aged eighty-seven at Brantridge Park, Sussex.

    Further details about all works by Philip Alexius de László can be found at www.delaszloarchivetrust.com
    Provenance

    Purchased from Christie's 13 December, 2012 (lot 73); previously in the collection of the sitter's daughter, Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain

  • Medium and techniques

    Oil on canvas laid down on board

    Measurements

    40.8 x 32.85 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external)

    47.6 x 39.2 cm (frame, rebate)

    60 x 51.5 cm (frame, external, without buildup)