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Creative writing

View of Fabergé's Mosaic Egg and Surprise

Anyone can try creative writing. Take inspiration from some of the artworks in the Royal Collection, and use the suggestions below to help you get started with writing your own story.

Painting of Charlotte, Princess Royal, Augusta and Elizabeth

Portraiture The Three Eldest Princesses, 1783-4, RCIN 400206 ©

Whilst we are all practising social distancing, the first thing that springs to mind when we look at this painting by Thomas Gainsborough is how close together he has painted his subjects. The three eldest sisters of George IV (from left to right: Augusta, Charlotte and Elizabeth) are all gazing in different directions, but the arrangement of the three sitters suggests an affectionate relationship.

Thomas Gainsborough wrote how he had painted ‘this Picture of the Princesses in so tender a light', a tenderness that seems to reflect George’s own fondness for his sisters. Gainsborough’s use of soft light enhances the subtle colours of the princesses’ dresses.

Creative writing prompts
  • Consider the sitters’ hands. What do they tell us about the relationship of the sisters that their faces do not? Write a description of the painting with a focus on touch. Some words that might help are: abrasive, clean, coarse, cool, cushioned, downy, encrusted, flimsy, fragile, gossamer, polished, powdery, prickly, ridged, sheer, stiff and velvety.
  • ‘So tender a light’: use this as a title for your own poem, song or story. Let your imagination go wild and try your hand at writing something creative.
The Mosaic Egg and Surprise

The Mosaic Egg and Surprise ©

This magnificent Fabergé egg is one of many created by the Russian jewellery firm for the Imperial family. It was given as an Easter gift by Tsar Nicholas II to his wife Tsarina Alexandra in 1914. It is made from gold and platinum, pink and white enamel set with rose diamonds, rubies, emeralds, topaz, sapphires and garnets. The borders are made up of pearls and larger diamonds, and a moonstone finial with the Tsarina's initials. The egg contains an oval 'surprise' with profiles of the five Imperial children on one side and a basket of flowers and their names on the other. The oval panels around the centre of the egg depict flowers intended to look like embroidery. It is said that the designer, Alma Theresia Pihl, was inspired one evening as she watched her mother-in-law doing her needlework, which shimmered in the light of the fire.

Creative writing prompts
  • Writing creatively: Inspired by Alma Theresia Pihl’s creative experience, try this as a starting point for your own story:  ‘A woman sits by the fireside watching her mother-in-law working at her sewing.
  • Prompts: What does the room look like? What time of year is it? What is the light level, are there any shadows? Are there any background noises? What can you smell…maybe coming from the kitchen? Which century do you think it might be?

See if you can write the next few lines.