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'Victoria & Albert: Art & Love: Symposium' published online

14 December 2012

To mark the 151st anniversary of the death of Prince Albert today, and to provide a fitting tribute to this most remarkable man, the Royal Collection and the National Gallery have published an e-publication.

The ‘Symposium’, a collection of online, fully-referenced essays now available to the public in the form of a convenient and permanent e-publication, explores different aspects of Prince Albert and Queen Victoria’s shared and sustained interest in the arts.

The essays originated as papers presented at two study days held at the National Gallery in June 2010, which were organised by the National Gallery and the Royal Collection to celebrate the royal couple’s enthusiastic patronage of the arts and the 2010 Queen’s Gallery exhibition, ‘Victoria and Albert: Art and Love’. Seventeen speakers came together for the study day from leading arts organisations and academic institutions in England, Scotland, Germany and France, including representatives from the National Gallery and Royal Collection.

Prince Albert and the arts

Prince Albert shared a genuine love for, knowledge of and commitment to the arts with his wife Queen Victoria. After his death the Queen offered part of his collection of paintings to the nation, 25 of which were selected by the National Gallery and form part of its collection today.

The essays highlight the extent of the royal couple’s patronage of the arts, a shared passion that lasted throughout their marriage. Strikingly, the extent of their collecting covered nearly every form of fine and decorative art, encompassing all periods and extending to an international reach.

The royal couple also diligently set about cataloguing, cleaning and displaying their art collections – certainly unusual occupations for any monarch and their consort. Although keen to acquire unique works of art, Victoria and Albert were perfectly happy to allow copies and reproductions into their collection, an indication of their interest in the possibilities for mass reproduction afforded by new mechanical techniques.

The essays also reveal how their tastes were quite different: while Queen Victoria particularly enjoyed sentimental images to commemorate members of her family and family occasions, Prince Albert had idiosyncratic tastes, such as a pioneering interest in collecting early Italian and German art.

Read essays from the ‘Symposium’ [external link]

More about Prince Albert and the National Gallery