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Victoria, Empress of Germany and Queen of Prussia

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Victoria, Empress of Germany and Queen of Prussia

by Joseph Mordecai, after Unknown photographer
oil on canvas, circa 1900
14 in. x 12 in. (356 mm x 305 mm)
Given by wish of the artist's widow, Mrs C.A. Mordecai, 1965
Primary Collection
NPG 4430


Rough deal frames became popular in the 1880s…

Sitterback to top

Artistsback to top

This portraitback to top

This portrait of the Empress of Germany, eldest child of Queen Victoria, seems to have been painted from a photograph in about 1900 or perhaps posthumously a few years later. The frame, a cheap commercial product, is made of roughly cut timber (known as 'Rough Deals') which is finished in imitation gold leaf for decorative effect.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 635
  • Simon, Jacob, The Art of the Picture Frame: Artists, Patrons and the Framing of Portraits in Britain, 1997 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 8 November 1996 - 9 February 1997), p. 46, 179 Read entry

    Rough sawn deal boards with applied compo laurel leaf cushion moulding, mitred and pinned, the rebate enlarged at left and right and the frame perhaps made for another picture, schlag or other imitation gold leaf over a warm-toned size; a later coating of bronze paint has now largely been removed. 4 inches wide.

    Rough deal frames became popular in the 1880s and remained so until the First World War, either as plain deal boards or as here with a delicate leaf cushion moulding contrasting with the roughness of the deal.

    This portrait of the Empress of Germany, eldest child of Queen Victoria, seems to have been painted from a photograph in about 1900 or perhaps posthumously a few years later. Its frame is a cheap commercial product, made from a single width of wood pinned close to the corners so allowing the mitres to open up with time. The frame corresponds very closely to one of the ‘Best Quality Rough Gilt Ornamental Mouldings' in a commercial frame catalogue of 1910, that of H. Morell of 17 and 18 Great St Andrew Street, Bloomsbury.1

    1 H. Morel, Victorian Wooden Molding and Frame Designs. The 1910 MorelI Catalogue, Dover reprint edition, 1991, p 18, design no.1200, 4" wide.

Events of 1900back to top

Current affairs

The Conservatives return to power, after the Prime Minister Lord Salisbury calls a general election, known as the 'Khaki election', on the back of huge jingoistic support for the Boer War.
The Labour Representation Committee (LRC) is founded from a coalition of socialist groups; they win two seats in the 1900 election and Ramsay Macdonald is appointed secretary. The Labour politician Keir Hardie is also returned to Parliament for Merthyr Tydfilin Wales.

Art and science

German physicist Max Planck proposes the concept of the quantum theory. Sigmund Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams is published. In the text, Freud outlines his theory of dream analysis, crucial to the study of the unconscious, and introduces key concepts in psychoanalysis, such as the Ego.
The Paris International Exhibition, attended by more than 50 million people and including over 76,000 exhibitors, marks the heyday of Art Nouveau.


In China the Boxer rebellion takes place. The Boxers were anti-imperialist and against foreign influence in trade, religion, politics and technology in the final years of the Manchu rule. The Boxers invade Beijing, killing 230 foreigners and Chinese Christians. The rebellion is suppressed by a multinational coalition of 20,000 troops, with China being forced to pay large war reparations, contributing to growing nationalist resentment against the Qing dynasty.

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