Queen Victoria in Paris: Watercolours from the Royal Collection, Compton Verney, Warwickshire, CV35 9HZ, until 11th December 2016
This special exhibition commemorates the State Visit of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert (with their two eldest children) to Paris in August 1855 and followed a State Visit to Windsor in April of that year by the Emperor Napoleon III and his consort the Empress Eugénie. It was part of cementing the alliance between Britain and France in the Crimean War. The forty-four watercolours, generously loaned by Her Majesty the Queen, depict the major events of the nine day visit from their arrival at Boulogne aboard the Royal Yacht onwards.
The watercolours, half of which are being publicly shown for the first time, were either presented to or commissioned by Queen Victoria and became one of her ‘Souvenir Albums’ that recorded events in her marriage to Prince Albert. I find them all of great interest but am specially drawn to those of her apartments in the Palais de Saint Cloud.
The significance of the Queen’s visit is summed up by Rosie Razzall, Curator of Prints and Drawings, Royal Collection Trust: “This was a pivotal period in British and French history. After centuries of enmity, France and Britain were never again to fight on opposing sides. A visiting head of state was not received with such popular fervour in France until the Kennedys in 1961, and has been unmatched since.”
After Compton Verney this touring exhibition goes on to the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter; The Wilson: Cheltenham Museum and Art Gallery; and the Bowes Museum, County Durham.