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Queen Victoria as artist, collector and patron

25 September 2014 at 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm

Please join us for an insider’s peek at Queen Victoria’s upbringing in Kensington Palace, led by one of Kensington Palace’s top curators.
Queen Victoria may be best-known for somber dress and a long reign, but she was also a lively intellectual, patron of the arts and a dedicated artist since childhood.

Statue of Victoria in Kensington Gardens
Statue of Victoria in Kensington Gardens

As an older woman, Queen Victoria looked back on her childhood at Kensington Palace as very difficult and lonely. She lived by a set of unwritten rules that seem draconian now: she had to share a bedroom with her mother until she was eighteen, she was constantly supervised by adults and she was rarely allowed the company of other children. The Princess had a full timetable of lessons in a variety of subjects, and her performance in those lessons was recorded daily by her teachers. People referred to these rules as ‘The Kensington System’, and as Queen she later looked back on these years as a trial that few people could understand.
But the Princess’s artistic education was not overlooked. She had her first drawing lesson with Richard Westall when she was eight. And she soon filled sketchbook after sketchbook with watercolours and drawings that chart the time she spent at Kensington – her trips to the theatre and ballet, her small number of childhood companions and excursions to Windsor, Ramsgate and Claremont. By the time she met Prince Albert, Victoria was an accomplished artist. The pair worked together on etchings of their children and she completed many studies of their family homes in Balmoral and Osborne.
Our guide, Historic Royal Palaces Curator Deirdre Murphy, will focus on the early years of Princess Victoria as an artist:   it will explore her early lessons, her great of love of the performing arts and how the world the Princess depicted contrasted sharply with her later memories of a sad and difficult childhood.
Victoria Revealed
Victoria Revealed

We will then be able to visit the exhibitions at Kensington Palace on our own before a self-treat Afternoon Tea.
Please indicate in your reply if you would like to stay for Afternoon Tea.
Cost:  Patrons/free;   Friends/£25;  Guests/£35. RSVP to Post your cheque to UK Friends of NMWA, Box 539, 28 Old Brompton Road, London SW7 3SS.
For more information on the exhibition:  Victoria Revealed
Information on our guide for the day:  As curator at Historic Royal Palaces, Deirdre Murphy has special responsibility for the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection and for curating exhibitions and displays at Kensington Palace.
This year, Deirdre was lead curator of The Glorious Georges at Kensington Palace, a major refurbishment of the King’s State Apartments and a temporary exhibition about court life at the palace during the reign of George II. In 2012, Deirdre was a key member of the team that led the £12million re-presentation of Kensington Palace, and she was lead curator of Victoria Revealed, a major permanent display about the life of Queen Victoria. Other exhibitions include The Last Debutantes (2008), an exhibition about the end of Court presentations in 1958, Deirdre has curated fashion exhibitions at the Gallery of Costume in Manchester and London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. Specialist research areas include Princess Victoria’s life at Kensington Palace and the relationship between the couture industry and the Court.
After a first career in television production, Deirdre studied History of Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. She lectures regularly on fashion history, interpretation and curating at London College of Fashion, Central Saint Martins and Leeds University.


25 September 2014
2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
Event Category:


Kensington Palace
Kensington, United Kingdom