Portrait of Queen Victoria (1819-1901)
William Drummond Early 19th Century
“This rare pair of watercolours shows Queen Victoria and Prince Albert at about the time of their wedding, which took place on 10th February 1840, at Windsor.”
12 x 9 in. inches; 30.5 x 22.5 cm
This rare pair of watercolours shows Queen Victoria and Prince Albert at about the time of their wedding, which took place on 10th February 1840, at Windsor. Victoria is shown in her wedding dress, while Albert is shown in a more informal riding outfit. He is portrayed without a garter star, which he received on 6 December 1839, and it is possible that the picture was done at around the time of Albert’s engagement to the future Queen Victoria. Victoria asked him to marry her, as protocol dictated, on 15th October. The portrait of Victoria was engraved and widely known, and perhaps for this reason is signed in full by Drummond, a portraitist active in the early 19th century, and regular exhibitor at the Royal Academy. There was of course great interest in the Queen’s wedding dress, of which the veil alone took six months, and some one hundred lacemakers, to create. The design was later destroyed so that it could never be copied.
The announcement of Victoria’s engagement took some observers by surprise. At the start of her reign she had signaled her desire to remain unmarried. However, Prince Albert had been ruthlessly promoted as Victoria’s future consort by Leopold, King of the Belgians, Albert’s Uncle, who was keen to secure English support for his fledgling kingdom. Victoria’s first meeting with Albert, in 1836, had left her unimpressed, but on his second visit in 1839 she immediately fell in love. Her diary reveals her feelings towards him: ‘Oh! how I adore and love him, I cannot say!! How I will strive to make him feel as little as possible the great sacrifice he has made; I told him it was a great sacrifice,—which he wouldn’t allow’.
The match was not immediately popular. The press questioned his Protestantism (as other Coburgs had married Catholics in furthering their ambitions), his German background (in a street ballad he was ‘Prince Hallbert’), and his mercenary motives (in another broadside he was after ‘England's fat queen and England’s fatter purse’). But though frustrated by the establishment’s reluctance to accept him, Albert understood the sensitivity of his position, and confided to his stepmother that ‘life has its thorns in every position, and the consciousness of having used one's powers and endeavours for an object so great as that of promoting the welfare of so many will surely be sufficient to support me’. He soon established himself as the Queen’s confidant and a leading patron of the arts and sciences, quite apart from being the father of nine children. His death in 1861 prompted the greatest public display of mourning then seen in England.