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A large dolls house
Queen Mary's Dolls' House

A guide to Windsor Castle's famous Dolls’ House.

Prints and Paintings

'Sailing boat on the sea' by Charles Henry Baskett (RCIN 926807)©

To procure the art collection for Queen Mary's Dolls' House, Princess Marie Louise contacted 700 notable artists of the day, asking them to donate drawings, watercolours, sketches, etchings, lino prints and engravings. While some pieces were intended to adorn the walls, others were to be laid flat and stored in two cabinets in the library and drawers in the basement.

The received artworks totalled 750 and covered a vast range of subjects and styles. Today those not on the walls are kept in the Print Room at Windsor Castle. One unfortunate absence is a self-portrait by Charlie Chaplin. In 1921 Chaplin encountered Lutyens at the Garrick Club and subsequently promised to donate a miniature portrait of himself. Lutyens was 'thrilled to Dolly Luyah' but the offered artwork never manifested.

'HRH Princess Marie Louise' by Alfred Praga (RCIN 927290)©

Paintings are not limited to those on miniature canvas. In many of the rooms, ceilings and walls are adorned with murals. Edmund Dulac (1882–1955) painted chinoiserie fairy tales on the walls of the Day Nursery. The ceiling of the King's Wardrobe shows female nudes painted by Wilfrid de Gelhn (1870–1951). Look upwards in the King's Bedroom and George Plank's (1883–1965) verdant garden trellis is marked by orange flowers with the notes of the National Anthem. Particularly impressive is the mural on the walls of the two halls linked by the Grand Staircase. This depiction of Adam and Eve being expelled from Eden was painted by William Nicholson (1872–1949), one of Lutyens's closest friends.

In addition, the House's collection includes 50 signed and unpublished music scores bound in leather and embossed with the queen's monogram. Musicians who contributed include Gustav Holst, Frederick Delius, Arthur Bliss, John Ireland and Arnold Bax. Only Sir Edward Elgar refused, furious at being asked to devote his artistic energy to something so 'trivial'.

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.