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RA VIC/ADDW/28

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Portrait photograph of Queen Alexandra (1844-1925) with her pet Japanese Chin dogs, c. 1916, RCIN 2106387 ©

This stunning Art Nouveau-style binding, mounted on dark blue velvet, was designed by Lilian Simpson (c.1871–97). The overall theme is love and the growth of life, symbolised by angelic figures and plants.

The design was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1896 and a number of copies were subsequently produced; this one was bought by the then Prince of Wales (King Edward VII), and later given to his wife, Queen Alexandra, as a Christmas present in 1905.

It was used by the Queen as a visitors' book from 1908 until her death in 1925.

The pages shown here, from 1923, include members of the British and Russian Royal Families and three musicians, who each wrote a piece of music with their signature. The Danish composer Carl Nielsen selected an extract from his opera Maskarade.