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Queen Victoria and Prince Albert

Landseer had his first interview to discuss this picture two months after the royal couple's marriage in 13 April 1840; at this stage the painting seems to have been planned as a happy sequel to Queen Victoria Riding Out (Royal Collection), which was exhi

Windsor Castle in modern times; Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and Victoria, Princess Royal ©

George III rejected Reynolds’s offer to paint his marriage to Queen Charlotte in 1761; by contrast, Queen Victoria (1819–1901) commissioned painted records of all the major ceremonial events of her reign. These images were made available to the public through engravings and exhibitions. Queen Victoria realised that the prestige of the monarchy could be sustained through magnificent pageantry, shared at one remove by the nation as a whole.

She also commissioned conversation pieces to show the day-to-day pattern of the royal family’s private life. Some of these (especially no. 36) were conceived on the grandest possible scale, with much thought for their public dissemination. The message she wished to convey would have been shared by most of the artists and sitters in this exhibition: that the daily and informal ceremonies of a well-ordered family life are as sacred as baptisms or coronations.