Intimate gifts reveal Queen Victoria, Prince Albert’s passionate relationshipMarch 13th, 2010 - 2:33 pm ICT by ANI
London, Mar 13 (ANI): The passionate relationship that Queen Victoria and Prince Albert had, has been revealed through the intimate gifts the two had showered upon one another.
The royal treasures, which have never been seen before, include gold bracelets fashioned with stags’ teeth and sensual paintings commissioned as love tokens.
They are among more than 400 items that will go on show to the public from March 19 in a major exhibition from the Royal Collection at the Queen’s Gallery in Buckingham Palace.
The display, which challenges the conventional view of Victoria as the grieving widow dressed in black for the last 40 years of her life, showcases for the first time the couple’s enthusiasm for paintings, sculpture, jewellery and furniture, all exchanged as tokens of their love.
Sensuous paintings and sculptures showing the nude female form and private artwork shared between Victoria and her husband, reveal the Queen as a passionate young woman.
“It’s the most lively and joyful exhibition we have ever had here,” the Daily Express quoted Jonathan Marsden, lead curator for Victoria & Albert: Art & Love, as saying.
The exhibits come from the couple’s 21 years of marriage between February 1840 and Albert’s sudden death in December 1861, during which they had nine children.
The treasures took a team of a dozen curators three years to prepare.
Among their love tokens is a bracelet, which Albert gave to his wife after the birth of their first child, Princess Victoria, with a locket containing a tiny hair from the baby and inscribed on the back with her date of birth.
Each time a new child arrived, Albert would buy her a different coloured locket inscribed with the date of birth and baby’s hair.
Albert, who first met Victoria on a visit to London in 1836, loved giving her jewellery, much of it designed as mementos of their treasured holidays at Balmoral.
Several brooches and necklaces are decorated with the teeth of stags he had killed on stalking trips around their Highland castle.
“It’s a very Germanic thing to do that and, of course, it allowed him to show off his hunting prowess,” Kathryn Jones, assistant curator, said.
Another brooch is decorated with one of their first daughter’s milk teeth and is inscribed on the back: “Pulled out by Albert.”
One of the highlights of the exhibition is the rarely displayed painting known as “the secret picture” by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, which the Queen commissioned in 1843 as a surprise present for Albert’s 24th birthday.
In the oval image the Sovereign is shown in what many Victorians would have described as a sensual pose with a bare neck and her long hair flowing freely.
“It was really only intended for Albert’s eyes. The Queen does not exactly look like a Queen, that’s how he knew her - not the rest of the realm,” Marsden, who takes over from Sir Hugh Roberts as director of the Royal Collection next month, said.
“We think ‘who were these people?’ because she doesn’t look like the Queen we know, she was a party girl when she was in her 20s and 30s,” he added.
Victoria’s most glamorous surviving dress, worn at a Buckingham Palace ball in 1851, is part of the exhibition.
“This wasn’t exactly normal - this was a very elaborate costume gown. She would be out dancing all the time, I think what really got her going was music, dancing the theatre, opera,” Marsden said.
The artworks were drawn from royal palaces across the country, including Windsor Castle, Victoria’s Isle of Wight home, Osborne House, and the Queen’s Scottish retreat of Balmoral, with a third of the objects exchanged as gifts between the royal couple to mark special occasions.
Prince Charles helped to make a television programme about his great-great-great grandparents and the exhibition to be shown on BBC One on March 14.
“As one looks about the exhibition, it becomes obvious that the Queen and Prince Albert were people whose love of the arts was absolutely central to their lives, and to their marriage,” Prince Charles said.
“They celebrated every birthday, every anniversary and Christmas with gifts of art, they studied art together, they played music together and they seem to have gained enormous pleasure, as I have done, from the company of artists and musicians,” he stated.
Charles, who is chairman of the Royal Collection Trust, described when his own interest in the art hanging around him on the walls of royal residences was ignited.
“Growing up in those houses, it’s like Windsor you know, you rush up and down corridors mucking about as small children never really noticing the surroundings much,” he said in an interview for the programme.
“And I’ve never forgotten, I think it must have been about the age of about 14, I suddenly started to notice the paintings. I can’t tell you how wonderful it was, that moment,” he added.
Victoria & Albert: Art & Love opens to the public on March 19 and runs until October 31. (ANI)
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