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Ceremonial and spectacle

In addition to the more private ‘scenes of our life’, Victoria and Albert included watercolours depicting public events in the albums they compiled together. The period of their marriage encompassed events of great national and international importance, with many of which they were intimately involved. Albert, for example, was a considerable driving force behind the Great Exhibition of 1851, commonly regarded as the first world fair. A few years later husband and wife followed the Crimean War closely, and personally engaged with the welfare of British soldiers.

It is notable that, in some of these watercolours, Victoria and Albert themselves are rather small figures, with more emphasis on the ceremony taking place than the couple’s participation. This can, to a degree, be explained by the likely vantage point of the artist – possibly at a height, and at some distance from the royal party. Victoria and Albert were, though, clearly receptive to illustrations that offered a wider view of an occasion.

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