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The Art of Monarchy

A collaboration with BBC Radio 4 to mark Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

Queen Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom (1819-1901)

Sketches of the Royal Children by V.R. from 1841-1859

RCIN 980024

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Queen Victoria was an eager, prolific and extremely competent artist. She received tuition from a number of artists, including Richard Westall and Edward Lear. The Queen preferred to paint in watercolour and filled a large number of sketchbooks and albums with her works. She usually took as her theme her surroundings and her growing family. Here, she paints the young Prince Alfred three days after his third birthday. The Prince, known to the family as Affie, wears a sailor suit and has his hands thrust into his pockets. A second brief sketch to the left shows him turned more to face his mother, his hat set far back on his forehead. Another pencil sketch underneath the main figure suggests that the Queen was struggling to depict a vase or similar container when she decided to make her young son her subject.

This watercolour is mounted in an album of Queen Victoria’s drawings of her family, kept in the Royal Library at Windsor Castle. Like the majority of the works in the volume, it has been signed and dated by the Queen herself as a record of a particular moment in both in her life and in that of her second son.