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Wellington at Prince Arthur's First Birthday

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This print by Samuel Cousins depicts Queen Victoria holding her third son, Prince Arthur, with Prince Albert, on the day on the young Prince's first birthday (1 May 1851), which was also the date of the opening of the Great Exhibition as well as the birthday of his godfather, Arthur, Duke of Wellington. Wellington presents his young godson with a casket and received in exchange a bunch of lilies of the valley, traditionally given on the 1 May for luck. In the background to left is the Crystal Palace, built specially to house the Great Exhibition.

The print is a copy of an oil painting commissioned by Queen Victoria, and based, according to her diary, on her own idea. The painting was made by Franz Xavier Winterhalter, a prominent portrait painter at a number European royal courts. Victoria's costume and jewellery accurately represent what she wore to the Great Exhibition's inauguration but the Duke’s gift was not a casket but a gold cup and toys. When later challenged by her son as to the whereabouts of the casket she wrote in reply, 'Dear Papa & Winterhalter wished it to represent an Event, like Rubens... & Paul Veronese did... without any exact fact...’ The image symbolically recalls those of the Adoration of the Magi.

 

 Within the original large and fancy gilt gesso frame. w:33.75 in x h:32 in
 

Item Code: 2999

£ 580

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