Queen Victoria is dressed in her Robes of State in this version of portrait and subject painter Alfred Edward Chalon’s coronation portrait. The original was painted in triplicate in 1837, on the occasion of the Queen’s first visit to the House of Lords after her accession to the Throne. The artist’s three copies of the portrait, painted for Victoria, were presented by the Queen to her mother (the Duchess of Kent), the King of Prussia and the King of Portugal.
The portrait head of the Queen in Chalon’s work was used as the image on stamps, known to collectors as ‘Chalons’. The use of Chalon’s portrait for stamps, printed in London and in New York City (for the Canadian colonies), and issued in many British colonies from the 1850s until 1912, meant that the work became arguably the most famous royal portrait of the Victorian era. As a result, many copies of Chalon’s portrait by other artists are in existence, some painted by members of the Royal Academy to be hung in British Embassies and Consulates. Although this version may have been painted by Chalon himself, confirmation of the artist or copyist of the work and the precise date of its execution have yet to be established.
Alfred Edward Chalon was born in Geneva but moved to England as a child, when his father was made French professor at Sandhurst. He began his studies at the Royal Academy Schools in 1797 and, having become a fashionable portraitist, was elected a Royal Academician in 1816. Chalon was the first to paint Queen Victoria on her accession to the throne. He was later appointed her official Portrait Painter in Water-colours. His brother, John James Chalon (1778-1854), was also a painter and together they established the Society for the Study of Epic and Pastoral Design in 1808, also known as the Bread and Cheese Society, and the Chalon Sketching Society. Chalon died in Kensington in 1860 and was buried in Highgate Cemetery.
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