Exhibition of “The Royal Family” and “Prince of Wales” by F.X. Winterhalter in 1847

January 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

Review of the Exhibition of The Royal Family and Prince of Wales by F.X. Winterhalter at St James’s Palace in 1847:

“The Banqueting Hall, in St James’s Palace, has been turned into an exhibition room, and the public are admitted by orders from the Lord Chamberlain to see “the two royal pictures,” painted by Winterhalter, for the Queen, in January of the present year.

“The small picture is a full-length portrait of the Prince of Wales in a sailor’s dress – a black straw cap on his head, little bits of blue about his shirt, black horn-buttons to his white jean trousers, his handkerchief tied about his neck in a sailor’s knot, and his hands stuffed deep into the pockets of his trousers. Such is a description of the picture, but little can be said in favour of it as a work of art. The attitude is easy enough, but the face wants character. What would it have been in Sir Joshua Reynolds’s hands? Look at his Master Crewe as Henry VIII., so full of character and colour. With all its defects, this portrait of the Prince is a national picture. One warms to the dress, and “Rule, Britannia,” and “Ye mariners of England,” rush willingly to the lips. [Cat. no. 319]

“The second of “the two royal pictures” is what painters call a family group. It is a very large picture, representing the Queen and Prince Albert and their five children. It is almost as much an indoor as an outdoor scene. The Queen and the Prince are represented seated on a sofa – the Queen in a white dress and the order of the Garter, and the Prince in a suit of black, with black silk stockings. On the Queen’s right, and standing by her side, is the Prince of Wales, in a red velvet dress, and immediately in front of the Queen is her Majesty’s second son, in the act of running to play with his three sisters, who form a charming group on the left of the composition. The two elder Princesses are playing with their youngest sister on a cushion on the ground, and the Prince Albert is represented touching the Queen’s hand, and directing her attention to the group before her, while his left hand hangs lackadaisically down, as if he was fond of showing off his wristband. On the Prince’s left is a table, with fruit upon it, and on her Majesty’s right is a vase of flowers. [Cat.no. 316]

“Such is a brief description of a very interesting picture; one, however, which cannot be compared for a moment with the Pembroke family at Wilton, the Marlborough family at Blenheim, or the Cornaro family at Northumberland House, but richer in colour than we had been led to expect from the pictures, at Sir Robert Peel’s, of the Queen and the Prince by the same artist. The “exhibition,” if such it may be called, will well repay a visit. We may add that the two pictures are to be engraved – both, we believe, by Mr. Cousins, who never suffers a work to pass from his hands without adding to its excellences.”

© “Fine Arts”, Daily NewsMay 1847, 5.

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