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Painted in her 66th year, Queen Victoria is represented as a lone figure, standing before her throne, within a magnificent palace, and staring thoughtfully into the distance. She carries a fan and is dressed in a black satin dress trimmed with lace and ermine, a small crown and numerous jewels. The blue sash across her chest and the adjacent badge (the Star of the Garter) represent her membership of the Order of the Garter, the highest order of English Chivalry. To the left of the image is a stone balcony, beyond which the tops of trees within the palace grounds can be seen.
This work is a copy by Henry Macbeth-Raeburn of an 1885 portrait by Heinrich von Angeli. It was the second portrait of the Queen to be commissioned from Angeli by Victoria herself. Angeli painted her for the first time in 1875 and for a third time, as an elderly woman, just two years before her death in 1899. Stamps issued in East Africa from 1896 to 1901 use an image of the head of Victoria based on this portrait.
Henry Macbeth-Raeburn, painter and engraver, was the son of the portrait painter Norman Macbeth (1821-1888). His siblings included the painters Norman (1821-1888) and James (1847-1891), and Allan Macbeth (1856-1910), a noted organist, choirmaster and principal of the Glasgow College of Music. Henry added Raeburn to his name to distinguish himself from the other painters in his family. He began his career in Edinburgh, but later moved to London. He exhibited 17 works at the Royal Academy, 4 at the New Water-Colour Society and one at the Royal Society of British Artists in Suffolk Street, London.
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