James Roberts (c.1800-67)
Osborne House: Prince Albert's Dressing Room
Watercolour and bodycolour with touches of gum arabic over pencil
24.3 x 36.8 cm
Commissioned by Queen Victoria (£9); left royal ownership in early twentieth century; Mrs N. Kay; Hove Auction Rooms, 16 May 1986; James MacKinnon; from whom bought by HM The Queen, September 1986
Between 1845 and 1847 Ludwig Gruner acquired twenty-seven early Italian pictures for Prince Albert. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert purchased the Osborne estate on the Isle of Wight in 1845 with the intention of establishing there a family home by the sea with more privacy and freedom from ceremonial life than could ever have been provided by George IV's Indo-Chinese extravaganza at Brighton. Work on a new house, designed by Prince Albert, started immediately. The iron-framed and cement-rendered three-storey Pavilion for the royal family, constructed by the successful London master builder Thomas Cubitt, was completed fifteen months later, in September 1846. Designs for the decoration of the principal rooms were provided by Ludwig Gruner, the Prince's artistic adviser, and plain mahogany furniture was supplied by Thomas Dowbiggin and Holland & Sons of Mount Street, London. The adjoining Main and Household Wings, to the east of the Pavilion, were completed in 1851 and the Durbar Wing, the last addition to the house, was built in 1890-1.
Signed, dated and inscribed Osborne / J. Roberts / Mar 1851
Text adapted from Victoria & Albert: Art & Love, London, 2010