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George M. Greig (c.1820-67)

Queen Victoria's Sitting Room or Morning Drawing-Room, Palace of Holyroodhouse dated 1863

Pencil, watercolour and bodycolour | 29.6 x 39.5 cm (whole object) | RCIN 919568

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  • A watercolour depicting three women (one seated, one standing and the third entering on the right) in a wood-panelled drawing room decorated with tapestries.

    The Palace of Holyroodhouse was used as a royal residence by Queen Victoria and her family from 1850 onwards, a convenient stopping point on the journey north from London or Windsor to Balmoral Castle in the Highlands. Victoria and her husband first saw the Palace during a carriage ride through Edinburgh on their first visit to Scotland in September 1842, but did not visit it properly until 1850, when they spent two nights in 'the interesting & antient Palace of my ancestors' (Queen Victoria's journal, 29th August 1850) during which they climbed to the top of Arthur's Seat, an ancient volcano. While in Edinburgh Prince Albert also laid the foundation stone for the National Gallery of Scotland.

    The palace was extensively redecorated before the first royal visit in 1850. The interior decoration was carried out by the Edinburgh firm D.R. Hay & Co., who were previously employed by Sir Walter Scott at Abbotsford and had a reputation for experimental colour schemes. Hay's interior schemes no longer survive, but a series of watercolours (including this one) by George Grieg, an Edinburgh watercolour artist who specialised in painting old, picturesque Scottish buildings, records their appearance. In this view of the room used by Queen Victoria as a Morning Drawing Room, the richly painted ceiling decoration was designed to harmonise with the tonalities of the wood panelling and the tapestry panels from the History of Diana series on the walls.

    Queen Victoria appears to have first become aware of Greig's work through a birthday present of two watercolours of Scottish coastal scenes from her mother, the Duchess of Kent, in 1861; these gained extra emotional significance as the Duchess died two months before Victoria's birthday, and the Queen recorded in her journal receiving the '2 views in Cramond, in watercolours which were ordered by beloved Mama & are still her gift. Most touching!' (Queen Victoria's Journal, 24 May 1861). She then commissioned Greig herself, requesting a series of interior views of her rooms at the Palace of Holyroodhouse (including this one) and ten depicting places she stayed at with Albert during their travels in the Highlands in 1861. Only one of this latter category remains in the Royal Collection.

    Commissioned by Queen Victoria; Greig was paid 40 gns for this watercolour on 15 September 1863

  • Medium and techniques

    Pencil, watercolour and bodycolour


    29.6 x 39.5 cm (whole object)