Queen Victoria and her Family
Mezzotint20 March 1850
About the work
Interpretation about this artwork is under review
This group portrait of Queen Victoria and her family shows the young Prince of Wales beside his mother. On the left, Prince Alfred (wearing clothing typical for a boy under three at the time) walks towards his three sisters, Princess Victoria, Princess Alice (far right) and the baby Princess Helena.
In May 1846, Queen Victoria wrote to the French king, Louis-Philippe, requesting that he release the painter Franz Xaver Winterhalter from his duties as court painter in order to paint a large picture of the Queen and her family. Winterhalter was permitted to travel the England for the commission. Sittings to the artist began in October 1846 and continued until January of the following year.
The completed painting was exhibited at St. James’s Palace in 1847. The Queen wrote in her journal of the work ‘…such beautiful, brilliant, fresh colouring… we were enchanted’. It was later hung in the dining room at Osborne House and was engraved by Samuel Cousins in 1850. That year, Queen Victoria wrote in her journal: ‘Cousins has just finished the engraving of the family picture & it is a splendid one’.
About the artist
Franz Xaver Winterhalter was one of Queen Victoria’s favourite artists. Born in Menzenschwand, Germany, he settled in Paris in 1834. He was introduced to Queen Victoria by her uncle, Leopold King of the Belgians. Between 1843 and 1871, Winterhalter carried out a vast number of royal commissions in England, spending six to seven weeks there each summer, where he painted chiefly at Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace. Winterhalter left Paris to live in Karlsruhe in 1871. Two years later, news of his death in Frankfurt, the result of typhus, reached Queen Victoria. ‘With all his peculiarities,’ she wrote to her eldest daughter, ‘I liked him so much’.
Samuel Cousins was a well known mezzotint engraver of portraits and decorative subjects after his contemporaries and 18th-century British artists. Born in Exeter, he was the pupil of, and assistant to, the engraver S. W. Reynolds. Cousins set up his own business in London in 1825 and would later become the first engraver to be elected a Royal Academician. He engraved plates after the foremost artists of his day including Sir Edwin Henry Landseer (1802-1873), Sir John Everett Millais (1829-1896) and Franz Xaver Winterhalter (1805-1873). His younger brother Henry Cousins (c.1809-1864) was also a mezzotint engraver.
- VictoriaAlbert, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha)Victoria, Princess RoyalEdward VIIAlice, Princess, Grand Duchess of HesseAlfred, Prince, Duke of EdinburghHelena Augusta Victoria, Princess, of Schleswig-Holstein
- vase (as Subject), royal portrait, group portrait, Victorian Genre, grape, pineapple, flower, boy, baby, girl, 19th century costume, family, Prince Consort, Queen, domestic interior, curtain, carpet, cushion, chair
- Materials & Techniques