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The Exhibition

Victoria & Albert: Our Lives in Watercolour


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Queen Victoria (r.1837–1901) and her husband Prince Albert spent many quiet evenings together compiling albums of watercolours, prints and photographs. Among these were nine volumes that Victoria described as ʻMy valuable Albums ... containing most beautiful water color paintings by the first Artists, and some by Amateurs, collected by my beloved Husband & myself, and representing the different places we visited & scenes of our life etc.’ Many of the works in this exhibition were originally arranged in these very personal albums.

The royal couple collected watercolours in different ways – direct commissions from artists, purchases at exhibitions, presents exchanged for birthdays or at Christmas, and gifts from others. The queen and prince were proficient amateur artists themselves, and Victoria took watercolour lessons from some of the artists whose works they acquired. While Albert, in particular, engaged eagerly with the newly emerging technology of photography, that art form was not yet able to capture events with the same vivacity as watercolour.

These watercolours give us an insight into the public and private lives of Victoria and Albert, at home and abroad. They capture the pomp and spectacle of the British court, the shaping of a modern nation, and the close-knit family at the heart of it all.

Explore the Exhibition

Objects on display

Discover every artwork in Victoria and Albert: Our Lives in Watercolour, grouped thematically

A watercolour of Buckingham Palace, depicting John Nash's garden front before Edward Blore's alterations of 1846-9. A figure with a dog walking beyond the lake may represent the Queen. Signed and dated, lower left: C R Stanley Augt 17. 1839.  
This waterc
Home and Family

Watercolour views of the Royal Family and the royal residences

Osborne House

Victoria and Albert's 'little Paradise' on the Isle of Wight

A watercolour depicting a distant view of the Palace of Holyroodhouse, with the remains of the ancient abbey on the left, assorted buildings and houses facing the front entrance at the bottom of the Royal Mile and Arthur's Seat beyond. This view of the pa
Edinburgh and the Palace of Holyroodhouse

Scotland's capital city and palace 'made a great impression' on the royal couple

An interior view of the Drawing Room. The Billiard Room can be seen through the open door.  
Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone of the new castle at Balmoral, designed by William Smith of Aberdeen, on 28 September 1853. Two years later, when the bui
Balmoral Castle

Many artists were invited to record life at the idyllic Highland retreat

Travelling the Kingdom

Public and private royal visits across Britain and Ireland

Germany, Albert’s Homeland

Victoria and Albert travelled to Germany together three times, to sightsee and to visit family


Albert had travelled in his youth, but with him in 1843, Victoria made her first trip abroad

The Crimean War (1853–6)

The royal couple collected many watercolours relating to the war and its aftermath

Ceremonial and Spectacle

The period of Victoria and Albert's marriage saw them engage with many significant public events

The Great Exhibition of 1851

Albert was instrumental in organising the first 'world fair'

A watercolour depicting the unveiling of an equestrian statue of Prince Albert in Charlotte Square, Edinburgh, on 17 August 1876. Signed, dated and inscribed at bottom right: Inauguration of the Prince Consort Memorial. Edinburgh, 17 Aug. 1876. / Wm Simps
Memorialising Albert

Following Albert's death, Victoria dedicated much of her time and patronage to his memory

A watercolour showing the Danseuses Viennoises performing the Pas des Moissoneurs from the ballet Kaya, ou l'Amour Voyageur. The troupe of young girls are shown with a line of girls at the front with other girls dancing behind them. They are all dressed i
Queen Victoria as a Watercolourist

Victoria trained from an early age and had a wide range of subjects

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.