Victoria & Thomas Sully

July 9, 2017 at 1:24 pm (books, british royalty, diaries, entertainment, portraits and paintings) (, , )

Yesterday I watched two episodes of the recent series VICTORIA, with Jenna Coleman in the title role. Episode 2 had a session of the Queen sitting to the portraitist Sir James Hayter (Guy Oliver-Watts) and ends with Victoria “needing help” at the unveiling of his resultant portrait.

Coleman as Victoria

This had me running to fetch my copy of Queen Victoria and Thomas Sully, Carrie Rebora Barratt‘s book that includes Sully’s 1837-38 diary of his stay in London with his daughter Blanche. I remember picking up this book in a newly-reopened Oxfam bookshop in Winchester in 2007. Ooh, they had some good titles then!

Not only does it tell about the MANY portraits the poor Queen sat for – be it miniatures; destined for postage stamps and coins; official portraits; commissions (like Sully’s – destined for the U.S.) – the book also has something to say about Hayter as well as his rival Wilkie — whose portrait the Queen did not think “very like”.

_I_ had to chuckle over her comments (culled from Victoria’s diary) about William Charles Ross – who painted at least TWO of the Smith sisters; Fanny Seymour (which I believe I have found, as a photograph of the original) and Maria Seymour – which was sold at auction, and about which Mamma (Mrs Charles Smith) has left us a letter.

Victoria_Sully

Amazon has a “new” copy – but many “near new” can be found in secondhand book markets. Definitely find a copy with its dust jacket.

Notice, too, of a tiny buried citation in the end credits of “Victoria”: that the series is based on the book by A.N. Wilson. The New York Times said of the book in 2014, “One more foray into a well-thumbed archive inevitably risks diminishing returns. In the absence of some new trove of documents, Wilson’s narrative holds few factual surprises. Rather, its novelty lies in psychological analysis, making his a Victoria for the age of reality TV. A celebrity who craves a private life but also courts popularity through new media technologies.”

A TV series is about as close to “reality TV” as one can get – so perhaps as fitting a source as any of the many biographies of Queen Victoria.

For those interested in “tie-ins”, Daisy Goodwin (series creator) has authored a “Victoria” novel, and Helen Rappaport has PBS’s “official companion book” to the TV series.

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Queen Victoria tweets!

June 5, 2012 at 11:49 am (british royalty, diaries, europe, history, news, portraits and paintings) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Charlotte Frost, a great friend to Two Teens in the Time of Austen ever since the publication of her excellent biography Sir William Knighton: The Strange Career of a Regency Physician, has alerted readers to the most wonderful news any “subject” could hear about in a Jubilee year: The Royal Archives have digitalized Queen Victoria’s journals!

**Access the journals via their homepage: Queen Victoria’s Journals**

What do you get when you visit? “In total 141 volumes of her journal survive, numbering 43,765 pages. They have never before been published in their entirety and have hitherto only been accessible to scholars by appointment…”

W-O-W!

Here is Victoria’s sketch of the singer Mademoiselle Grisi, 1834.

Sketches have their own search & see page – and just looking at all of this young girl’s work, over the years, gives a genuine thrill for those of us studying “naive” art in the 19th century. Her children’s portraits are sheer delight.

Marina Warner has written about Queen Victoria Sketching, and included comments about early lessons with Richard Westall, RA.

I LOVE that you even have choices to see Victoria’s “originals”, or later transcriptions and typescripts.

So why have I headed this blog post “Queen Victoria tweets“? In a statement, the Palace announced not only this digitization project, but also two other “projects”:

  • Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee Scrapbook
  • “Over the Diamond Jubilee period, the Twitter account @QueenVictoriaRI will tweet selected excerpts from Queen Victoria’s Journals, illustrated by links to photographs, paintings and original documents. This account will run from 24th May until 7th June”

 * * *

NOTE OF LIMITED-TIME OFFER: except in the UK, access to Queen Victoria’s journals have an expiry date! Visit before July 1st… Those that giveth, also taketh away.

UPDATED: hurrah – but hurry: access has been extended to 31 July 2012 due to “the very positive response”.

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Another Fanny Knight

March 4, 2010 at 8:45 pm (a day in the life) (, , , , , , )

Today, while looking up information on Jane Austen’s niece Fanny Knight, I came across an old — 1960 — article on an entirely different Fanny Knight. The interesting thing here is that she and her parents spent FIVE years on a “Grand Tour”. Their home? New York. VERY interesting reading because this young Fanny spots the likes of Queen Victoria. My favorite line in the article is about her; the Queen, passing in her carriage, “sat there in her pink silk bonnet. One of [the policemen standing nearby] said to Pa: ‘She looks just like a little girl’.”

Beside the Queen rode Prince Albert, the Princess Royal (Vicky), the Prince of Wales (Bertie) and Helena. The year was 1854. Presents a vastly different image from the little Queen all enveloped in black we are used to seeing in photographs!

Mary and Emma, of course, were alive when Victoria first ascended the throne. They were as thrilled as any with gaining a young and vibrant woman as monarch.

I invite you to read about young American Fanny Knight’s trip — though beware of a poor ‘translation’ from magazine (American Heritage) to website. A LOT of mis-read words on behalf of their OCR program. Also: the pictures referred to are not shown; a real loss (you’ll see why, once you read the article).

Find it at American Heritage.

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