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Carl Georg Anton Graeb (1816-84)

Schloss Stolzenfels: The Great Knight's Hall 1847

RCIN 920421

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In 1845 Queen Victoria made her first journey to Germany, homeland of both her mother (the Duchess of Kent) and her husband Prince Albert, whom she had married five years before. This was one of numerous marriages between the British royal house and members of the Prussian and Saxe-Coburg dynasties, and Victoria consequently had many relatives in Germany whom she had never met; further, King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia (reg.1840-61) had visited England in 1842 to attend the christening of his godchild, Prince Albert Edward (the future King Edward VII), and it was considered politically important to return the visit. The royal party crossed from Woolwich to Antwerp on 9 August 1845, and travelled to Cologne by train. From there they headed south to Brühl, where they stayed in the Schloss as guests of Friedrich Wilhelm, and then on to Prince Albert’s university town of Bonn. From Bonn they travelled by Rhine steamer to Schloss Stolzenfels, south of Koblenz, staying there from 14 to 16 August, again as guests of Friedrich Wilhelm. The journey up the Rhine continued as far as Mainz, from where the Queen and Prince travelled by carriage for two days, finally reaching Albert’s birthplace, Coburg, on 19 August. The ruined Schloss Stolzenfels, on the banks of the Rhine, was presented to Friedrich Wilhelm, then Crown Prince of Prussia, by the city of Koblenz in 1823. Restoration was begun in 1836 to the designs of Karl Friedrich Schinkel, and was substantially complete by 1842, with neo-Gothic furniture by Johann Wilhelm Vetter. On their first night there, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert dined in the Great Knights’ Hall, surrounded by armour and a collection of early ceramics and glass. Friedrich Wilhelm subsequently commissioned a set of watercolours as a souvenir for Victoria, consisting of six views of Schloss Stolzenfels by Carl Graeb, thirteen of Schloss Brühl by Adolf Wegelin, and three of Stolzenfels, one of Brühl, and one of Cologne Cathedral by Georg Osterwald. Signed lower right C. Graeb Text adapted from Victoria & Albert: Art & Love, London, 2010