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Queen Victoria and the start of the collection

Queen Victoria had several sittings for her portrait by Partridge in September and October 1840. This painting is probably the ‘Copy’ recorded by the artist in 1840 as ‘presented at Christmas to Prince Albert’. 

The Queen, in a black evening dr

Queen Victoria (1819-1901) ©

The fans from the wardrobe of Queen Victoria (1819-1901) are the earliest to survive in quantities in the present Royal Collection. The property of her grandmother, Queen Charlotte (1744-1818) – including around 400 fans – was dispersed via a series of auctions following her death. However, some of Queen Charlotte’s fans, including the fan depicting 'Aurora and Apollo' were returned to the young Queen Victoria at an early date. The beautiful early Italian fan, which had been bequeathed by Princess Charlotte of Wales (George IV’s daughter) to her dresser, was given to the young Queen Victoria in the late 1830s.

When Queen Victoria came to the throne, at the age of 18 in 1837, it was already well-known that she delighted in pretty clothes and fashionable accessories. Two years later her aunt, Queen Louise of the Belgians, purchased for her a richly-decorated ivory brisé fan which had reputedly belonged to Queen Marie-Antoinette. And on the eve of her marriage in 1840, Prince Albert presented her with a group of four ‘old fans’ from the ducal collection in Gotha, including the Baton fan with head finials. The fans which the Queen inherited in the same year (1840) on the death of her unmarried aunt, Princess Augusta, would have been welcome further additions to her wardrobe (see Grand Tour fan), as would those inherited from another aunt, Queen Adelaide, in 1849 and from her mother, the Duchess of Kent, in 1861.