- Extended Catalogue Entry
by Bertha Müller, after Heinrich von Angeli
oil on canvas, 1900, based on a work of 1899
46 1/2 in. x 36 in. (1181 mm x 914 mm)
Sitterback to top
- Queen Victoria (1819-1901), Reigned 1837-1901. Sitter associated with 546 portraits, Artist associated with 5 portraits.
Artistsback to top
This portraitback to top
Commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery and executed in Von Angeli’s studio by his student Bertha Muller. This portrait represents the eighty-year-old Queen Victoria as she neared the end of her sixty-three year reign. She is dressed in black with a white widow's cap to signify her mourning for her husband, Prince Albert, who died in 1861 almost thirty-eight years earlier. The painting is a copy after an original portrait by the Austrian painter Baron Heinrich von Angeli, made for the queen's own collection (Royal Collection). Von Angeli was a royal favourite who executed many portraits of the queen and her family. Her youngest child, Princess Beatrice, read aloud to her mother during sittings for the original portrait, which the queen described as 'wonderfully good'.
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- Gibson, Robin, Painting The Century: 101 Portrait Masterpieces 1900-2000, 2000 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 26 October 2000 to 4 February 2001), p. 50 Read entry
Precocious painter of portraits and historical genre, born in Oldenburg, Austria; produced some of his best-known historical work in Munich (1859-62), but returned to Vienna in 1872 and devoted the rest of his career to portraiture; a favourite with the European courts, he became Queen Victoria’s preferred portraitist and first painted her in London in 1875.
Although this was not the last portrait painted of the 80-year old Queen-Empress (1819-1901), it has become one of the best known. The Queen was especially fond of von Angeli, who was constantly successful at amusing her. She sat for him in May and July 1899, the sixty-third year of her reign, and was particularly impressed with the result, declaring it ‘the best and likest he ever painted of me’. The original portrait (now in the Royal Collection) was sent to Vienna late that year to be copied by Berthe Müller (1848-19??); sister of a well-known Vietnamese painter of Egyptian and Turkish scenes, Leopold Müller, she had been a pupil of von Angeli and later worked as his assistant. In the early months of 1900, she produced replicas of the portrait for both the Royal Collection and this one for the National Portrait Gallery.
Victoria no longer took an active part in public life, but still showed a keen interest in public affairs. It was known for instance that she had been upset by the war in the Sudan (the early disasters of the Boer War in South Africa, which were to hasten her final illness, still lay ahead). During sittings with von Angeli she discussed the recent suicide of Crown Prince Rudolph of Austria. It is as a widow that von Angeli depicts her here (although Prince Albert had died nearly forty years previously), wearing black and in a contemplative pose that can be traced back to antiquity; the blue sash of the Order of the Garter is the only concession to her royal rank. She died just over a year later, nearly thirteen months into the new century.
R. Ormond, Early Victorian Portraits, National Portrait Gallery, London, 1973, I, p 475.
O. Millar, The Victorian Pictures in the Collection of Her Majesty The Queen, London, 1997, I, pp 6, 7, 16.
- Ormond, Richard, Early Victorian Portraits, 1973, p. 475
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 635
Subjects & Themesback to top
Events of 1899back to top
Current affairsGeorge Nathaniel Curzon, Lord Curzon, is appointed Viceroy of India, pursuing a mixed policy of forceful control and conciliation. Curzon's inquiries into Indian administration result in legislation in areas including education, irrigation, and policing. The Board of Education is created to co-ordinate the work of higher grade elementary schools, county technical schools and endowed grammar schools, also setting up a register of teachers.
Art and scienceThe Italian Guglielmo Marconi transmits the first wireless telegraph, between France and England across the English Channel, a distance of 32 miles. Marconi's production of waves over long distances lays the foundations for the development of the radio. Later this year, Marconi demonstrates his invention in America, at the Cup yacht race, and for the American navy.
InternationalOutbreak of the second Boer war, fought between the British Empire and the two independent Boer Republics of the Orange Free State and the Transvaal. Despite a disastrous start, Britain quickly won the war, although guerilla warfare continued until 1902, leading to the introduction of concentration camps by British commander Lord Kitchener, a measure which contributes to the British public's growing disillusionment with the campaign.
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