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Patrons and collectors of art

Sir William Ross (1794-1860)

Queen Victoria (1819-1901) Signed and dated 1839

Watercolour on ivory laid on card | 4.9 cm (Width) (support, diameter) | RCIN 420260

This miniature was painted soon after Prince Albert's return to Coburg on 14 November 1839 having accepted Queen Victoria's proposal of marriage. The Queen recorded a sitting of 1 hour 40 minutes on 26 November, 'for a picture for dearest Albert'; and on 5 December she 'sat to Ross, who has finished my picture which is exceedingly like' (Journal). She is wearing the crystal locket enclosing a lock of the Prince's hair that she wore 'day and night' for several weeks. It was a gift from Queen Louise of the Belgians in November 1839.

William Charles Ross was the eldest son of William and Maria Ross, both portrait and miniature painters in London. He entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1808 aged thirteen, and in 1814 became apprenticed to Andrew Robertson (1777-1845). Ross enjoyed success from the outset and won several medals at the Society of Arts. He exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1809 and 1859. Queen Victoria first sat to Ross in November 1837 and he was appointed Miniature Painter to the Queen a month later. Ross produced over fifty miniatures for the Queen and Prince Albert between 1836 and 1860. He was knighted in 1842.

This miniature is presented in one of the gilt-bronze frames of a uniform pattern which the royal couple began to commission in 1851 from John Hatfield. It was used both for new portraits and for the collection of historic miniatures at Windsor, which was - with a few exceptions - re-framed over a period of years.

Signed, dated and inscribed on the reverse in ink: London / Dec r. 30. 1839. / Painted by W.  C. Ross / Miniature Painter / to / The Queen.

Adapted from the catalogue entry from Victoria and Albert: Art & Love, 2010, no. 1.