Queen Victoria’s Little-Known Art
An unprecedented look at the private journals of Britain’s longest-ruling monarch.
By Maria Popova
Queen Victoria (May 24, 1819–January 22, 1901) may be best-known for lending her name to the historical era of social and sexual restraint, but she was also a lively intellectual, a reflective thinker, and a dedicated artist since childhood. Joining these noteworthy digitization projects are Queen Victoria’s journals, spanning the period from her childhood days to her rise to the throne, her marriage to Prince Albert, and her Golden and Diamond Jubilees. (She was the first monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee — her reign of 63 years was longer than that of any other British monarch and any other female monarch in history.) The collection, digitized by Oxford University’s Bodleian Libraries and the Royal Archives, contains the surviving thirteen volumes penned in Victoria’s own hand; the remaining volumes were transcribed after Queen Victoria’s death by her youngest daughter, Princess Beatrice, on her mother’s instructions.
But perhaps most striking are the Queen’s drawings, a fine addition to these peeks inside the notebooks and sketchbooks of famous creators. From her subtle yet rich watercolors to her seemingly austere but remarkably expressive black-and-white ink sketches (with a style reminiscent of Wendy MacNaughton’s), the drawings complement her observations of daily life and capture everything from members of the Royal Family to foreign military uniforms to the people and places the Queen encountered during her travels, and even her faithful dog.
See more of the drawings, alongside handwritten journal pages and a timeline of Queen Victoria’s life and times, on the project site.
Published June 8, 2012