Friday, April 16, 2010

Victoria & Albert, Art & Love

For those of us who continue our fascination with Queen Victoria and who have poured over every detail in the current film The Young Victoria, here is special treat: Victoria & Albert, Art & Love is currently on exhibit at The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace. I almost hesitate to tell enthusiasts about this...we may want to lock up our family jewels, less we sacrifice them for some of the delicious objects for sale in the gallery's shop. So promise me, before you start to read this, that you will be prudent.

The exhibition focuses on the gifts that the loving couple gave to each other. It is no surprise to those of us who have poured over Victoria's journals and delighted in her watercolors of her children, that she had a taste for art. And also not a revelation that her dear Albert, always her muse, had a most sophisticated eye. With the magic of this wonderful instrument we write our emails on, you can see many of the items the two gave as tokens of affection to one another--and at the same time, they were supporting artists in all realms.

Birthdays and anniversaries were for Victoria and Albert, as they are for all us, the occasion to delight a recipient with the most personal and meaningful of gifts. For example, for his 24th birthday, Victoria presented Albert with a portrait of his favorite dog painted by a distinguished English artist of the time. And at the birth of each child, Albert gave Victoria a charm for her bracelet...nine charms in all, of course.

Prince Albert's brilliance and talents are properly displayed at The Queen's Gallery--and makes even sadder his untimely death at 42. Victoria mourned her Prince and the nation lost a man who might have done so much more.

PS - A catalog of the exhibit is available for order on Amazon, and The Young Victoria is also now available on DVD.

Artworks shown: Portrait by Franz Xaver Winterhalter commissioned by Queen Victoria for Albert on his birthday; Ceramic inkstand commissioned by Prince Albert; Archie and Annie MacDonald, watercolor by Queen Victoria; I know my position, Sir!, watercolor by Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, with Edward Corbould


  1. I have always been such a hopeless romantic. When I had to write an essay during my teen years I was drawn to subjects such as Queen Victoria and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. At first it was the romantic sides of these two strong women. However, I found their lives were complex and each portrayed the strength to follow their own path.

    It was Victoria's grit which helped her to walk away from the total isolation she lived under with her mother before becoming Queen. I couldn't imagine being that young and being thrust into the throne. When she met Albert, her cousin, she asked him to marry her. I guess you just couldn't ask a Queen. I have always been intrigued with her as a person, not just a Queen. The deeper I got into their story, I more I was amazed at the "political undercurrent" which must have plagued them. Obviously this only brought them closer. She was one fascinating woman! She and Albert's love for each other is the surviving part of their story.

    I wonder how she would feel if she knew her influence is still being felt today. In one of my essays it described her as fascinating, but simple, courageous, but timid. Of course they said she could also be terrifying at times. I remember, too, they said she had a silvery voice. I shall think of that voice when I perhaps get a glimpse into "The Queen's Gallery." Thanks, Jean

  2. Another fascinating post, Nancy. I loved the movie, as I have all movies about this complex woman. I would love to see the exhibit, but you've done the next best thing and brought it to our gaze. Many thanks, Nancy!
    By the way, do you have a favorite biography of Victoria you can recommend? I've read a few, but so many of them bog down with hoary details of political intrigue and tend to float over the love story and her royal family...
    Karen Marline, hopelessly romantic AND domestic!

  3. Nancy, I had to come back and thank you for this wonderful journal entry. I finally found the time to explore the site you posted. I spent over an hour just enjoying the jewelry, artwork, particularly of the children and mementos from the life of Albert and Victoria. Since I know I may never see these in person, this was a rare treat.

    Ladies, if you have not visited this site, take the time to see the romantic side of Victoria and Albert. I loved the orange blossom parure from Albert. He had to be so in love with his bride to have this created. Just seeing the beautiful sapphire wedding brooch was unreal. However, the brooch he had created of the thistle with her milk tooth was the best. How inspiring to see the drawings of the beautiful children, especially Princess Victoria, but the creative cast of her arm and hand was so special.

    As Marline stated, they put far too much emphasis on the events of her ruling, and not enough on their incredible relationship.
    Victoria is still giving and so are you. Thanks again, Jean

  4. Nancy, I am catching up a bit with your blog since "life" took over for several weeks, as will happen. I love blogging and miss it when I am not able to keep up... but particularly miss your lovely blog. Hubby and I watched Victoria & Albert (BBC miniseries with Victoria Hamilton and Jonathon Firth) not too long ago, and I was reminded again of the strength and dignity with which they reigned. I think the unwavering commitment in their relationship must have cemented her resolve to rule with steadfastness of heart. This looks like a fascinating exhibit... wish I were crossing the pond and could visit. As always, thank you for sharing your favorite finds with us.