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Empress Friedrich, consort of Friedrich III, Emperor of Germany & King of Prussia, 1st daughter of Queen Victoria (1840-1901)

The Princess Royal's fan 1856

RCIN 25102

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Leather leaves painted in watercolour, bodycolour and gold, over graphite under-drawing, with letters spelling VICTORIA linked by swags of ribbon, in the centre a roundel with two angels and a ribbon inscribed MAY 24th 1856, cornucopia and crown beneath, flowers and foliage either side. Verso painted with the letter V against a blue sky with moon and stars in a roundel surrounded by a wreath and tied with ribbon inscribed MAY 24 1856. VICTORIA.delt, putti to left and right. Pierced and carved ivory guards backed with mother-of-pearl and carved ivory sticks. Replacement brass and silver pin with paste head.

Victoria, the Princess Royal, was fifteen years old when she decorated this fan for her mother’s thirty-seventh birthday. The name VICTORIA is spelt out in gold letters, each one accompanied by a bouquet of flowers beginning with that letter: Violets; Iris; Cornflowers, Convolvulus and Corn Ears; Tulip and Thistle, Orange Blossom; Roses; Ivy and Auricula.

The swags joining each bouquet are inscribed with the names and birthdates of the Queen, Prince Albert and their first eight children. The central oval contains the figures of Fame and Peace - the latter being particularly appropriate, as the Crimean War had ended just a few months previously.

Text adapted from Victoria & Albert: Art & Love, London, 2010 and Painting Paradise: The Art of the Garden, London, 2015.