Historical information

Queen Victoria’s appreciation of German artist Franz Xaver Winterhalter (1805-1873) began after she saw portraits by him of other European monarchs. Accordingly, between 1842 and 1861 he made fifteen visits to England and painted over 100 portraits of Her Majesty, the royal family and other friends and dignitaries. In 1843 Winterhalter was commissioned to paint matching portraits of Queen Victoria and Albert, the Prince Consort. These originals hang in the Garter Throne Room at Windsor Castle and are part of the UK Royal Collection. Many legitimate copies of Winterhalter’s portrait were produced and presented to the Parliaments of the British Empire, including the Parliament of Victoria. Such copies are referred to as “After F. X. Winterhalter” and artists responsible include William Corden and John Prescott Knight. When creating copies, artists were not restricted by the size of the original portrait. Walterhalter’s original is 2.7m x 1.7m whereas copies can reach an impressive 4.5 metres in height. The portrait that hangs in Queens Hall at the Parliament of Victoria is not signed. Comparison with other copies of the work suggest that the Parliament’s painting may have been completed by William Corden. The Government Art Collection (United Kingdom), has a Queen Victoria copy in their collection and Parliament’s portrait has similar traits. A copy by John Prescott Knight which hangs in the Legislative Council in the Parliament of Tasmania is quite different, particularly with reference to the shape of the young Queen’s face, which is rounder in the Corden portraits.

Significance

This portrait of Queen Victoria was presented as a gift by the British Government to the Parliament of Victoria in April 1860. Painted on fine linen supplied under Royal Warrant by the workshop Winsor and Newton, London, the frame has been embellished with elaborate wooden carvings.

Physical description

Framed portrait, oil on linen, of Queen Victoria. Victoria is posed in front of a curtain partially obscuring a building (possibly Buckingham Palace) in the background. Timber frame with a layer of gesso and decorative composition ornaments. There are rose, scotch thistle, clover leaf and Acanthus ornaments. A carved wood and composition element crown, resting on a tassled pillow sits on top of the frame.

Inscriptions & markings

Canvas unsigned. Verso printed: ‘WINSOR AND NEWTON / Rathbone Place, London’. Embossed stamp into stretcher wood, stamped ‘Winsor and Newton’ in black ink.

References