Major loan to an exhibition about Queen Victoria and photography

Queen Victoria
Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Over 40 photographs from the Royal Collection have gone on display at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, in an exhibition exploring Queen Victoria's lifelong devotion to photography.  A Royal Passion: Queen Victoria and Photography includes work by some of the most influential and prolific photographers of the 19th century.

The photographic age began in 1839, just two years after the 18-year-old Queen Victoria ascended to the throne.  The Queen and her consort Prince Albert embraced the new medium, spending time together mounting family portraits into albums, and exchanging photographs as gifts at birthdays and Christmas.

In 1854 Roger Fenton photographed The Queen and Prince Albert at Buckingham Palace – the first image of Victoria as reigning monarch, rather than as wife and mother.  Forty-three years later, the Queen sat for a number of formal portraits on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee, including that by Gunn & Stewart.

From 1860, photographs of Queen Victoria and the royal residences could be bought by the general public. That year Roger Fenton produced 31 prints of Windsor Castle and the surrounding parkland.

Several photographs present the royal family in a remarkably informal style.  In Roger Fenton's image of Queen Victoria with her four eldest children, the Queen is wearing a tartan shawl, with a pair of scissors and a key hanging from a chain around her neck.  Leonida Caldesi's portrait of Prince Arthur shows the young prince, Queen Victoria's seventh child, bare-chested and leaning on cushions. 

A Royal Passion: Queen Victoria and Photography is at the J. Paul Getty Museum until 8 June 2014.