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Sir David Wilkie (1785-1841)

The First Council of Queen Victoria Signed and dated 1838

RCIN 404710

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This painting depicts Queen Victoria’s first meeting with her Privy Council, her most senior advisors and ministers, which took place in the Red Saloon at Kensington Palace on 20th June 1837, just a few hours after her accession to the throne, at the age of 18. The Queen is seated on a dais and is depicted in white by Wilkie to single her out from the elder statesmen dressed in black around her and to suggest her purity and innocence. Wilkie follows the tradition of distinguishing the young Christ from his Elders in this way in paintings showing Christ in the Temple. Queen Victoria, however, wore black mourning on the occasion of her first Privy Council meeting and disapproved of Wilkie's use of artistic licence. She disliked the picture intensely on account of Wilkie's lapse in accuracy. Like the painting of The Entrance of George IV to Holyroodhouse in the first gallery, this painting has suffered from Wilkie’s excessive use of mastic resin mixed with oil paint (megilp). This technique has resulted in large areas of visible craquelure which is now irreversible.