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Activity / challenge

The Art of Collage

Collage designed by Alexandra, Princess of Wales

By the early twentieth century, photography had become a popular and more affordable pastime. Queen Alexandra was a prolific photographer. Many photographs taken by Queen Alexandra are now part of the Royal Collection, including an intricate album of photographic collages made when she was still a princess. Explore images from the album, and take inspiration from Queen Alexandra’s creative collages to try the technique for yourself.

Collage album consisting of albumen photographs arranged and adhered to twenty-nine hand-coloured pages by Queen Alexandra (1844-1925), when Princess Alexandra of Wales. This is one of two similar albums on which the Princess worked in the 1860s, which di

Album of designs, incorporating photographs ©

As well as a photographer, Queen Alexandra was also an artist, and received drawing and watercolour lessons from Queen Victoria’s tutor, William Leighton Leitch. She combined these interests to create an extraordinary album of family photographs, artfully inserted into intriguing watercolour renderings of everyday objects and scenes. The combination often makes for a curious or surprising image, with faces appearing in unexpected places such as in jewellery, pincushions and clock faces.

In other examples, figures cut out from photographs are used to populate a scene such as a busy country road or a crowded drawing room.

Have a go!

Why not try assembling your own collage, inspired by Queen Alexandra’s Album?

You will need:
  • Glue and scissors

  • A piece of card or strong paper (to be used as a base)

  • Paper for sticking, such as tissue paper, wrapping paper, card, magazines, old postcards, etc.

  • Watercolour paints, colouring pencils, or felt-tip pens. You might choose to include photographs in your collage (you could use photocopies to avoid damaging the originals). Alternatively, you could use photographs from magazine or newspapers.

Find out more

Queen Alexandra, consort of King Edward VII, King of the United Kingdom (1844-1925)

Album of designs, incorporating photographs c.1866-9