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Prince Albert and the History of Art

Apollo and Diana©

Prince Albert belonged to the first generation of students to hear lectures in the new discipline of Art History. Visiting Italy as a nineteen-year-old he had steeped himself in Renaissance painting and made contact with leading scholars, many of them German expatriates. Ludwig Gruner, an engraver from Dresden famous for his prints after Raphael, became the Prince’s artistic adviser in 1842. Gruner acquired for Prince Albert twenty-seven Italian pictures of the kind then known as ‘Primitives’, which were arranged systematically in his Dressing Room at Osborne. Albert also reorganised the Print Room at Windsor, and began a collection of reproductions of the complete work of Raphael.

The North European pictures on display here reflect Prince Albert’s interest in Lucas Cranach the elder, the painter of his Saxon ancestors. In 1847 the Prince lent his relative Prince Ludwig von Oettingen-Wallerstein a sum of money, secured on a collection of seventy-nine predominantly German and Netherlandish paintings that was brought to London and offered for sale. When the loan remained outstanding and no buyers were found, the collection (including nos 105 to 107) was acquired by the Prince.

The income from your ticket contributes directly to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. The aims of The Royal Collection Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection, and the promotion of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational activities.