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Queen Victoria’s Paintings Up For Grabs

January 27, 2023
A still-life painting of pink and yellow azalea flowers in a blue vase on a table with a yellow tablecloth

Study of Azaleas by HM Queen Victoria

This weekend, the London auction house Hansons will be hosting their Fine Art, Antiques and Collectors auction. It’s all a bit of a hodgepodge consisting of 442 lots of various artworks, including Indian bronzes, Chinese porcelain, collections of jewelry, silver, and coins, as well as several paintings and prints. While the most highly valued lots include an early 17th-century portrait of a Dutch child (est. £18K to £20K), as well as a large silver bowl in the shape of a life-size swan (est. £35K to £45K), some critics and journalists have their eye on this sale for something entirely different. Two decent-looking floral still-lifes will be up for sale that day as well, and the house specialists estimate them to sell for between £8K and £10K each. No one is sure of the year of their creation, but they are almost certainly the work of a 19th-century British woman. We know this because, according to their previous owner, they are original works by none other than Queen Victoria.

While many may be aware of King Charles III’s love of painting, most people are probably unaware of his great-great-great-grandmother’s artistic dabblings. Both still-lifes, one of azaleas, the other of flag irises, are from the collection at Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight. The castle had been the home of Queen Victoria’s daughter Princess Beatrice until she died in 1944. The year after her death, Beatrice’s son Alexander began to sell parts of the art collections kept at the royal properties on the Isle of Wight, including Osborne House and Carisbrooke Castle. This was where the current owner of the queen’s paintings claimed her grandfather had purchased them. The paintings also come with a letter from Alexander positively attributing the works to the queen. Paintings positively attributed to Queen Victoria are incredibly rare, with only 15 works of hers ever sold at auction. Her auction record was set at Christie’s London in 2015 when a bust portrait of a young maid sold for £24K hammer.