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The Exhibition

Queen Victoria (1819–1901) and Prince Albert (1819–61) spent many happy evenings together compiling albums of watercolours, prints and photographs. Among these were nine volumes which Victoria described as ‘My valuable Albums ... containing most beautiful water color paintings by the first Artists, and some by Amateurs, collected by my beloved Husband & myself, and representing the different places we visited & scenes of our life etc; arranged by my dearly beloved Husband.’ Many of the works in this exhibition were originally mounted in these very personal albums.

The royal couple collected watercolours in different ways – commissioning them directly, purchasing them at exhibitions and receiving them as gifts. Some they exchanged as presents for birthdays or at Christmas. Both Victoria and Albert were enthusiastic patrons, and demonstrated great interest in the process of artistic creation. The Queen was a proficient amateur watercolourist, and took lessons with some of the artists whose works the couple collected.

The watercolours on display here give us an insight into the private and public lives of Victoria and Albert. These colourful and dynamic works capture the pomp and spectacle of the British court, the exploration and shaping of a modern nation, foreign travel and diplomacy, and the close-knit family at the heart of it all.

This exhibition also includes a display of materials from the City Archives relating to a visit made by Queen Victoria and other members of the royal family to Wolverhampton on Friday 30 November 1866 to unveil the equestrian statue erected in memory of Prince Albert, which stands to this day in Queen Square. The display includes newspaper cuttings from the time, an original invitation to the unveiling ceremony, images of the event and other commemorative items.

Queen Victoria as a watercolourist

Victoria was herself an accomplished watercolour artist

Homes and family

The works show settings for both domestic and court life

Osborne and Balmoral

Osborne and Balmoral provided privacy and space for Victoria and Albert's growing family

Travelling the kingdom

Victoria and Albert travelled widely throughout Britain and Ireland

Facsimile album

A recreation of one of Queen Victoria's albums, in which these works would originally have been housed

Ties with France

Victoria's first trip abroad was to France in 1843

The importance of Germany

As the birthplace of both the Queen's mother and Albert, Germany was close to the hearts of the royal couple

Ceremonial and spectacle

Victoria and Albert's marriage encompassed events of national and international importance

The Great Exhibition

The Great Exhibition was visited by more than six million people in its five-month run

Memorialising Albert

Queen Victoria was distraught at Prince Albert’s unexpected death