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Victoria & Albert: Our Lives in Watercolour
Victoria & Albert: Our Lives in Watercolour

The watercolours collected by Victoria and Albert documented their lives, private and official, together


A distant view of Potsdam at sunset


Pencil, watercolour and bodycolour | 31.6 x 43.6 cm (sheet of paper) | RCIN 920706

Queen Victoria's eldest child, Victoria, the Princess Royal, married Prince Frederick William (nephew of King Frederick William IV of Prussia) in January 1858. She was only 17 years old at the time and, though the marriage had not been forced upon the young Princess, her departure was inevitably a wrench for both mother and daughter. Queen Victoria missed her greatly, and wrote letters to her every few days; the Queen's feeling of separation was compounded when she learned in May 1858 that the Princess was expecting her first child (the future Kaiser William II). A visit to Germany was quickly arranged, and in August Queen Victoria and Prince Albert set out by train from Antwerp to spend two weeks with their daughter.

The watercolour was commissioned by the Prince Consort later in 1858 as a Christmas present for Queen Victoria. Potsdam, immediately to the south-west of Berlin, was the site of a number of the country residences of the Prussian royal family, notably Sanssouci. Here the town is seen looking westwards into the afternoon sun from the park at Babelsberg, where the royal couple stayed with the Princess; the newly built Flatowturm is on the right and the wide waters of the Havel catch the light in the distance. Carl Graeb had come to the notice of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert when the Prussian King had presented them with six views by Graeb of the King's Rhineland castle Schloß Stolzenfels after their visit in 1845. A number of other watercolours of Schloß Babelsberg, Sanssouci and around Berlin were ordered from the artist following the 1858 visit.

Text adapted from Victoria & Albert: Art & Love, London, 2010

Signed lower right C. Grae[b]. On paper watermarked: J Whatman / 1856

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