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Christian Daniel Rauch (1777-1857)

Victory c.1851

Bronze | 76.8 x 36.0 x 27.8 cm (whole object) | RCIN 41615

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  • At the Great Exhibition, sculpture was to be found in many forms and locations. Bronzes and smaller works in other media were included in the various national displays, but large statues and groups in marble and plaster in Class 30 (Fine Arts) were studded along the principal aisle and transepts of the Crystal Palace.

    One of these, Josef Engel's Amazons and the Argonauts already belonged to Prince Albert, and was lent with his permission by the sculptor. Queen Victoria acquired another, C.D. Rauch's 7ft-high marble winged Viktoria for £370 as a gift for the Prince.

    It was a repetition of one of the six winged victories executed by Rauch for the Valhalla, a German pantheon commissioned by the King of Bavaria, Ludwig I, in 1825. Rauch was engaged on the sculptures of the Valhalla for much of the 1830s. The temple, designed by the Munich court architect, Leo von Klenze, was eventually completed in 1842. On an elevated site above the Danube near Regensburg, it took the form of a Doric peripteral temple. Within, neoclassical marble busts of great men were grouped around the walls, interspersed with six large marble winged Victories by Rauch, four standing and two seated, each a different model. The fourth, represented here, was completed in the summer of 1841 and quickly became widely known through reproductions. King Frederick William IV commissioned another full-size marble replica for the Weisser Saal of the royal palace in Berlin (now Berlin, National Gallery).

    The Queen's marble had been ordered from the sculptor in October 1843 by the King of Prussia, apparently with the intention that it should be a gift to the Queen. Although it is not clear why the King did not go through with the gift, his choice of subject is explained by the toast with which he proposed the Queen's health during the banquet held in her honour at Schloss Augustusburg, Brühl, on 12 August 1845.

    'There is a word, resounding in British and in Prussian hearts, which thirty years ago echoed on the heights of Waterloo from English and Prussian voices, as marking the result of a glorious, hard-won, brotherly deed of arms; now, it resounds on German ground, in the midst of the blessings of that peace, which was the blessed fruit of the great conflict. That word is, Victoria!'

    The marble statue was placed at Osborne, where the royal couple were gradually filling the Corridor designed by Ludwig Grüner to receive their regular acquisitions of contemporary sculpture. Some time after May 1852 it was installed in the right angle of the Corridor, displacing the statue of Queen Victoria by Gibson that can be seen in James Roberts's watercolour of that date. The Gibson was then placed in a similar shallow niche at the opposite end of the Corridor, the intention no doubt having been to balance one 'Victoria' with another.

    This small bronze version, cast in the Berlin foundry of Rauch's regular collaborator Christoph Fischer from a reduced model by the sculptor's assistant Julius Franz, was included in the exhibit of the Zollverein states at the Great Exhibition, paired with a reduction of Rauch's Fame. They were commended for 'the scrupulous accuracy of their execution'. Rauch's work also appeared in numerous locations throughout Britain, such as Apsley House, the Royal Horticultural Society Gardens (which included a bronze electrotype of this sculpture) and the international exhibitions subsequent to the Great Exhibition. Rauch was one of the most well represented sculptors in the Crystal Palace after its transfer to Sydenham, where plaster copies of nineteen of his sculptures were displayed, including all six Victories.

    Victoria and Albert were familiar with the work of Rauch, as they already owned several of his works prior to their purchase of the two Victories. In 1850 Rauch travelled to Osborne House with the sculptor John Gibson, where he was granted an audience with the queen and her consort.

    Text from Victoria & Albert: Art & Love.
    Provenance

    Purchased by Queen Victoria on 19 November 1851 at the Great Exhibition (£90 with a companion, Fame; RA QV Journals 1851/79)

    Given to Prince Albert by Queen Victoria, 1851 [Victoria & Albert: Art & Love, London, 2010, pg 460]

  • Medium and techniques

    Bronze

    Measurements

    76.8 x 36.0 x 27.8 cm (whole object)