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Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

2 of 4 portraits by John Francis

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

by John Francis
plaster cast of bust, now painted black, 1844
30 7/8 in. (785 mm)
Given by J.A. Gowland, 1914
Primary Collection
NPG 1736

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • John Francis (1780-1861), Artist. Artist or producer associated with 4 portraits.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Cannadine, Sir David (Introduction); Cooper, Tarnya; Stewart, Louise; MacGibbon, Rab; Cox, Paul; Peltz, Lucy; Moorhouse, Paul; Broadley, Rosie; Jascot-Gill, Sabina, Tudors to Windsors: British Royal Portraits, 2018 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, USA, 7 October 2018 -3 February 2019. Bendigo Art Gallery, Australia, 16 March - 14 July 2019.), p. 190 Read entry

    Prince Albert was the second son of Ernest, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, and spent his childhood in the ducal summer palace on the borders of the forest of Thuringen. Encouraged by his ambitious uncle Prince Leopold, widower of Princess Charlotte of Wales, Albert began courting his cousin Victoria from her seventeenth birthday, but she responded with only mild interest. On becoming queen, Victoria relished her new-found autonomy and sought to avoid marriage. Albert's visit to England in 1839, however, transformed her opinion of the studious young man, of whom she wrote: 'Albert's beauty is most striking, and he is so amiable and unaffected - in short, very fascinating looking.' They married the following year. As consort, Prince Albert had no political power but was influential as a patron of arts, taking the lead in organising the major British cultural event of the century - the Great Exhibition of 1851. The prince's good looks are evident in this bust, made of plaster and painted black to emulate bronze. The sculptor, John Francis, started his career as a farmer, but went on to teach and supervise Prince Albert in the art of sculpture, collaborating with him on a statue of the prince's much-loved greyhound, Eos.

  • Ormond, Richard, Early Victorian Portraits, 1973, p. 9
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 7

Events of 1844back to top

Current affairs

Britain experiences a railway boom. Peel's government passes a series of Acts creating provision of cheap, regular rail services. George Hudson, the first great railway entrepreneur, who controlled over 1,000 miles of railway track and whose enterprises made York a major commercial and transport hub, becomes known as 'the Railway King'.

Art and science

Disraeli's Coningsby is published. The first of his 1840s 'Young England' trilogy, it was the cultural manifesto of Disraeli's vision for a new Conservativism.
David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson set up their innovative and pioneering photography studio in Edinburgh, capturing portraits of both Scottish society figures and workers, as well as urban and rural landscape scenes.


Tensions continue to mount in Eastern Europe over Russian imperialist ambitions, as Tsar Nicholas I describes the Ottoman Empire as 'the Sick Man of Europe'.
With the overthrow of the Haitians, the Spanish-speaking portion of the island of Hispaniola gains independence, as the Dominican Republic.

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