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Reginald Easton (1807-93)

Watercolour on ivory laid on card | 9.5 x 8.0 cm (support, canvas/panel/stretcher external) | RCIN 420766

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  • Prince Alamayou (also known as 'Alamayu', 'Alemayehu' and 'Alamaiou') was the only legitimate son of Tewodros II (1818–68), Emperor of Abyssinia (modern-day Ethiopia). When his father committed suicide in April 1868, following his defeat by British troops at the Battle of Magdala, Alamayou was brought to England by army officer and explorer Tristam Charles Sawyer Speedy (1836–1910). Alamayu lived with Captain Speedy on the Isle of Wight and was presented to Queen Victoria at Osborne House. The Queen took a great interest in the child and mentioned him often in her diaries. The Queen continued to monitor the young Prince's upbringing after he was sent away to school at Rugby and was deeply saddened to hear of his early death, aged eighteen, of pleurisy, writing: 'Very grieved & shocked to hear by telegram, that good Alamayou had passed away this morning. It is too sad! All alone, in a strange country, without a single person or relative belonging to him […] Everyone is sorry' (Journal, 14 November 1879). At Queen Victoria's request he was buried at St George's Chapel, Windsor.

    Reginald Easton began work as an engraver but later took up watercolour and miniature painting. He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1835  until 1887, from addresses in London although he was resident, c.1850, at Leamington, Warwickshire. He became particularly well known among aristocratic circles for his miniature portraits of children. Easton was occupied in painting the children of Prince and Princess Louis of Hesse at Osborne House in the summer of 1868 and must have been engaged to paint Prince Alamayou within weeks of his arrival there. The result is an exceptionally sensitive portrait, which is one of the finest examples of Easton's work.

    Signed, dated and inscribed on the reverse in ink by the artist: Alamaiou, / aged 7 years – / son of Theodor / King of Abyssinia / painted by R. Easton / at Freshwater / 1868.
    Provenance

    Painted at Osborne House for Queen Victoria in 1868

  • Medium and techniques

    Watercolour on ivory laid on card

    Measurements

    9.5 x 8.0 cm (support, canvas/panel/stretcher external)

    11.1 x 9.6 cm (frame, external)


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