Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014
Prince Albert (1819-1861)
During the first half of the nineteenth century large-scale cabinet miniatures on ivory became increasingly popular. This new approach to producing the miniature was brought to a climax in the work of Sir William Ross and is clearly demonstrated in this image of Prince Albert. Technical innovations in the slicing of the ivory from the tusk made larger sheets of the material available to artists at a time when they were eager to raise their status by emulating the rich tones and complex compositions of oil paintings.
Reminiscent of formal full-scale portraiture of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Prince Albert is shown standing by a chair against a classical background. He stands in evening dress with the ribbon and star of the Order of the Garter, the badge of the Order of the Bath and the star of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem; his pose is both stately and regal as befits a Prince Consort. Ross has chosen to place his hand resting on a book which serves to remind the viewer of the Prince’s intellectual and aesthetic interests. Prince Albert's physical attributes are also emphasised here; Queen Victoria she had written before their marriage of his ‘beautiful figure, broad in the shoulders, and a fine waist. My heart is quite going –’ (RA QVJ: 11 October 1839).
Signed on the reverse in ink: H.R.H. / Prince Albert, KG / Sir W.C. Ross pinx: