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George IV: Art & Spectacle

New insights revealed into George IV's unrivalled collection of paintings, porcelain and furniture


Ceremonial of the Coronation of His Most Sacred Majesty King George the Fourth


Printed on japan vellum; gold letterpress, stipple engraving with etching and aquatint, and hand-colouring | 69.5 x 59.7 x 7.7 cm (book measurement (conservation)) | RCIN 1005090

Bound in brown morocco, gold-tooled, with the Royal Arms on both boards, rebacked. Printed in London by John Whittaker, forty-three folios, interleaved with blanks.

This sumptuous volume was produced in the context of an equally splendid public event, George IV's coronation on 19 July 1821. Since his estranged wife, Caroline of Brunswick, was held in considerable public sympathy after George IV's attempts to divorce her, a lavish spectacle was needed to rekindle the public's loyalty towards him. Parliament voted the astonishing sum of £240,000 towards the cost of the ceremony (George III's coronation had only cost £70,000). The extravagant costumes for the procession were designed to an Elizabethan and Jacobean theme, to recall England's past heritage. Whittaker's publication was printed in gold throughout, by a technique developed in secret and first used in 1816. The vibrant hand-coloured illustrations below the text help to give a flavour of the procession, though not its strict order.

Six copies of this book were printed for the crowned heads of Europe, but the expense bankrupted Whittaker, despite an initial grant of £5,000. The plates, engraved from originals by the brothers James (1789-1874) and Francis Stephanoff (1790-1860), were later republished by Henry Bohn in Sir George Nayler's 'Coronation of His Most Sacred Majesty King George the Fourth', published posthumously in 1837.

Catalogue entry from 'Royal Treasures, A Golden Jubilee Celebration', London 2002.

    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.