OSBORNE HOUSE – Part Three

The Royal Family by Winterhalter

One of the most charming areas of Osborne House is the nursery, occupied by the nine Royal children when staying on the Isle of Wight. The rooms have been preserved and offer a glimpse into the privileged world of Victoria and Albert’s children.

 

The Royal children may have had the benefit of wealth of privilege, but they were fortunate in also having hands-on parenting, especially from Prince Albert, who involved himself in their playtime and education, striving to teach them industry and practical matters by example. The Swiss Cottage, which Prince Albert had built on the grounds of Osborne House, was designed to teach both, so Victoria and I headed through the grounds to find it.

The formal terraces
The rhododendrons are brilliant in May
Bluebells fill the woods in May

 

The Swiss Cottage

The Prince used the Swiss Cottage to employ an extensive educational regime for the children, with each one being given their own garden and the responsibility of planting and tending it. In addition, there were lessons in natural history, languages and other intellectual pursuits.

In the ground floor museum, Prince Albert and the children assembled collections to study and sketch.

Nigerian carving of the Queen

A Great Bustard, among the many stuffed creatures the children studied

Upstairs, you’ll find a complete cottage, all scaled down to allow the children to learn domestic sciences.

Dining Room in the Swiss Cottage where the children often stayed

The tea table is set for July 21, 1861, the final time the whole family was together before Prince Albert’s death.

The Sitting Room

The kitchen

The gardens tended by the royal children

Sports were also on the Prince’s educational agenda, with the beach at Osborne House factoring in to the children’s daily routines. It was Albert who personally gave each of the children their first swimming lessons. Naturally, it was our next destination.

This turtle sculpture was one of many along the path.

The path leads from the Swiss Cottage to the picnic grounds and beach.

The shaded pavilion where Queen Victoria often sat to sketch.

Today, visitors are invited to relax by the water and to enjoy refreshments in comfortable chairs.

Speaking of refreshments, they are Queen sized at Osborne – that’s Kristine’s hot chocolate above, complete with a marshmallow so big, it needed it’s own cup.

Queen Victoria’s bathing machine sits beside the tea house.

 

Remember, you can see Osborne House and Gardens first hand.  Please take a look at Number One London’s 2019 Queen Victoria Tour – also on the itinerary are Kensington Palace, Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and the Royal Pavilion at Brighton.

OSBORNE HOUSE – Part Two

by Victoria Hinshaw, with Kristine Hughes Patrone

After a break we eagerly went upstairs to see the personal rooms of the royal couple and their children.

Some of the children
Skylight at the top of the staircase
Prince Albert’s Dressing and Writing Room

Victoria and Albert had adjacent suites of rooms on the first floor. after Albert’s death in 1861, the Queen kept his rooms just as he had left them.

Prince Albert’s dressing and Writing Room
The View from Prince Albert’s desk

The painting above, hanging in Prince Albert’s Writing Room, shows the Queen’s portrait of Princesses Louisa and Helena in costume for a play they performed.

Queen Victoria’s Sitting Room

Victoria and Albert worked side by side in this room, where the family also gathered for informal activities.

 

Victoria’s piano, on which both she and Albert were accomplished performers
Florinda, by F.X. Winterhalter, 1862

The painting above, described by the guidebook as  “remarkably sensual,” was a birthday gift for Albert from the Queen.

 

Queen Victoria’s dressing Room

The Minton dressing table set was commissioned by Prince Albert as  a Christmas gift for the Queen in 1853. The room contained a bath and a shower, in addition to a WC, all tastefully paneled in mahogany.

Queen Victoria’s Bedroom

Victoria died in this bed at 6:30 am on January 22, 1902, memorialized in the plaque above.

The painting The Entombment was painted by Gustav Jaeger, 1845, a favorite of Prince Albert’s.

On the ground floor again, the Horn Room is filled with stag’s horns, many from Balmoral.  Often used as a visitor’s waiting room, here you find Sorrow, the portrait of Queen Victoria on her pony Flora held by John Brown, her Highland servant and confidante.  The artist Landseer exhibited it at the Royal Academy in 1867. Below is a better image from the Royal Collection.

The Stag Room
Landseer, Sorrow, or Osborne 1865
Sir Edwin Landseer, 1867

THE DURBAR WING

Constructed in 1890-91, this wing honors the Queen’s position as Empress of India. Mainly a reception hall, it is sumptuously decorated with Indian motifs and houses an extensive collection of treasures from the sub-continent.

The Durbar Room is breathtaking… but there is more in the gardens and beach.

Part Three coming soon!

If you’d like to see Osborne House first hand, please take a look at Number One London’s 2019 Queen Victoria Tour – also on the itinerary are Kensington Palace, Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and the Royal Pavilion at Brighton.

VISITING OSBORNE HOUSE – May 2018

by Victoria Hinshaw, with Kristine Hughes Patrone

via English Heritage

In 1845, Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert bought property on the Isle of Wight. The Prince designed the house, in coordination with architect Thomas Cubitt, to reflect his taste for Italian-style villas; Albert was known to compare the view of the Solent with the Bay of Naples, though I found this quite a stretch.

 

To Quote the guidebook, “The house and estate created by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert at Osborne are unrivaled in terms of the intimate insight they can give into their private lives. The story of a marriage, a family, and an empire is told in the richly decorated rooms and the treasures they contain. The tranquil gardens and wider landscape were vitally important for a couple seeking an escape from court life.”

Kristine and I followed the route laid out for visitors to see the state and family rooms, beginning with the Grand Corridor, almost a sculpture gallery.

 

Nymph and Cupid by Edward Muller, a birthday gift for Albert before his death in 1861

The Marine Venus from the Baths of Caracalla in Rome, purchased at the Stowe Sale of 1847

 

The Council Room

Even though she was at Osborne House with her family, Queen Victoria met with her privy council here.  In the center of the ceiling is the badge of the Order of the Garter.

The ceiling of the Council Room
Copy of Winterhalter portrait of the Queen in Sevres porcelain, gift of King Louis Philippe of France
The Audience Room

The Queen received official visitors in the Audience Room. Below, Queen Victoria’s collie, Noble, sculpted by Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm.

We could hardly believe the feast for our eyes: the floor designs, the decorated ceilings, the artworks, the furniture, and rugs…but we had hardly begun. On the ground floor of the Pavilion, which was the family home, we find the dining room,  drawing room, and the billiard room.

Copy of Winterhalter’s family portrait hung above the dining room sideboard

Instruments to ensure perfect alignment of place settings

The dining room opens into the drawing room, decorated in yellow silk, a favorite decor of Queen Victoria’s.

The Billiard Room is adjacent to the Drawing Room.

close-up of the billiard table leg

Before we go upstairs, let’s take a break…

Grand Staircase
The tea room afforded us a welcome rest and sustaining drinks.

In Victoria’s later years, this room was used as a comfortably accessible chapel.

In Osborne House – Part Two, we will visit the personal rooms of the Queen and her Prince Consort, and the nursery.

 

If you’d like to see Osborne House first-hand, please take a look at Number One London’s 2019 Queen Victoria Tour – also on the itinerary are Kensington Palace, Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and the Royal Pavilion at Brighton.

THE NEW ROYAL ACADEMY – Part Two

by Victoria Hinshaw

I recently visited the new addition to the Royal Academy in London and concentrated on the addition of the building at 6 Burlington Gardens to the campus, in a very sympathetic renovation.

An exhibition showing early works, founding members, and methods of teaching emphasized learning to paint and sculpt by copying great works of art, as seen in the first part of this post.  Another great work of art used for copying purposes was Leonardo de Vinci’s Last Supper in a copy made in the 16th century by the master’s students. It was purchased and hung in the RA in 1817 as an inspiration for the students and fellows.

Copy of The Last Supper

Several  copies of works by Michelangelo were included in a section of the exhibition called “Michelangelo as Muse.”

The Taddei Tondo, a.k.a. The Virgin and Child with the infant St. John

In the words of current RA President Christopher Le Brun, “The Taddei Tondo has become one of the great icons of the Royal Academy. Many people consider it to be one of the greatest works of sculpture in the UK.”

J.M.W. Turner, Dolbadern Castle, North Wales, 1800

Turner’s Diploma work, given permanently to the RA as all academicians must do when elected, depicts a remote Welsh castle; He accompanied it with a poem:

How awful is the silence of the waste,

Where Nature lifts her mountains to the sky,

Majestic solitude, behold the tower

Where hopeless Own, long imprison’d, pined.

And wrung his hands for liberty in Vain.

John Constable, The Lock, 1834

Like Turner, Constable was more inspired by nature and landscape than by studying great works of art.  Although Gainsborough was better known for his portraits than his landscapes, he too preferred to work from nature.

Thomas Gainsborough, Romantic Landscape 1783

The new part of the RA is connected to the old part by walkways and bridges, allowing outdoor spaces for the students as well.

Architectural fragments from the vaults are found in hallways, for the use of architectural students, as are casts of famous statues as examples for sketching.

Venus de Milo
Farnese Hercules

“Old” fans of the Royal Academy will be pleased to know that the Burlington House section remain much as before with exhibition galleries, the Fine Rooms, and other features still in evidence, as well as provocative new offerings from the latest artists.

The familiar facade of Burlington House in Piccadilly
Preparing for the Annual Summer Exhibition

I look forward to visiting in July to see the entire display: 250 years of the Summer Exhibition.  Good show, RA!

THE NEW ROYAL ACADEMY

Victoria Hinshaw, here.

After two hundred fifty years, the Royal Academy of Arts (RA) is celebrating its anniversary by adding an adjacent building to increase its exhibition space.  The new look, not quite completed, opened May 19, 2018.  I visited on May 24 and was delighted with newly added facilities. The annual Summer Exhibition will open June 12, 2018.

Burlington Gardens Entrance

The newly added building once held the Museum of Mankind, located “behind” the Piccadilly site of Burlington House, home of the RA since 1868. The Museum of Mankind, an adjunct of the British Museum, moved out of the building in 2004. The RA subsequently bought it and held a competition for a design to merge the two structures. After a complicated series of setbacks,  the eventual winner, architect David Chipperfield succeeded admirably. More building pictures are below, after the story of one of the opening exhibitions I enjoyed so much.

The exhibition The Making of an Artist: The Great Tradition intrigued me.  As a researcher into the art and architecture of the Georgian, Regency, and Victorian periods, I was familiar with many of the early RA fellows, but had never seen the works shown, drawn from the vaults of the RA.

Satan summoning his Legions 1796-97 by Sir Thomas Lawrence, RA

The huge, almost monumental painting leads the visitor into a selection of works by some of the earliest members. Lawrence, largely self-taught, studied briefly at the RA before earning fame as a portraitist and becoming a full member. He was the fourth president of the RA.

Thomas Lawrence, RA, self-portrait, c.1820

At the beginning of the exhibition, a text panel explains The Royal Academy Foundations: In 1768 a group of painters, sculptors and architects convinced King George III to support the creation of the Royal Academy of Arts. Their aim was to improve the quality of art in Britain and to raise the status of British artists and architects. The new Academy had three key functions that continue today:

Run an art school, training the next generation of artists

Hold an exhibition, selling contemporary art annually, now the Summer Exhibition

Elect as Royal Academicians a small number of leading painters, sculptors and architects (and eventually printmakers)

Royal Academicians by Henry Singleton, 1795,  picture from the RA

The full title is The Royal Academicians Assembled in their Council Chamber to Adjudge the Medals to the Successful Students in Painting, Sculpture, Architecture and Drawing. In the back row are the two female founding members, Angelika Kauffmann and Mary Moser. They were not allowed to participate in the life drawing classes.

First RA President, Joshua Reynolds, Self Portrait, c. 1780

The esteemed portraitist Joshua Reynolds was elected the first RA President.

Angelika Kauffmann, among the founding members of the Royal Academy

Kauffmann is shown sketching the torso, one if many sculptures or copies used as models by RA members and students to hone their drawing skills.  The torso, like others of its ilk, has been in the possession of the RA for 250 years.  It stands nearby, seen below in two views.

                       

Note how the light changes the hue of the photograph, according to the angle.

In the painting of the RA members above, you will see a model of the Laocoon, an ancient Greek statue used for the same purpose as the torso.  The exhibition asks the question: “Does great art begin with studying nature, or studying great art of the past?” One must decide for oneself! But Reynolds considered the study of great art essential for artists.

Cast of Laocoon and his Sons, from a Roman version of a Greek original, c. 10-20 AD

Part Two, further adventures at the RA, coming soon.