Lecture: Queen Victoria, Winterhalter and a secret language of visual symbolism

Franz Xaver Winterhalter, Queen Victoria in her wedding dress, 1847. Royal Collection.

Franz Xaver Winterhalter, Queen Victoria in her wedding dress, 1847. Royal Collection.

In conjunction with the forthcoming exhibition Unveiled: 200 years of Wedding Fashion from the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, Te Papa is delighted to present a series of lectures in conjunction with this glamorous exhibition.

The first lecture is by visiting art historian Eugene Barilo von Reisberg on Saturday 10 December (10.30am) –  ‘So Like & So Beautifully Painted: Portraits of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert by Franz Xaver Winterhalter’.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s story is one of the great romances of the 19th century.

Following her wedding Queen Victoria giddily wrote in her journal : ‘My dearest dearest dear Albert… his excessive love and affection gave me feelings of heavenly love and happiness, I never could have hoped to have felt before! Oh! This is the happiest day of my life!’ 10 February, 1840

As the curator of Unveiled, Edwina Ehrman writes, Queen Victoria’s selection of a creamy white satin court dress for her marriage was a ‘defining moment in the history of the white wedding dress in Britain’. Queen Victoria’s choice was a political decision. Very much a woman in love, the 20 year old Queen wanted to make her wedding vows as a future wife, not as the monach. Political savvy also guided the Queen’s choice of Franz Xaver Winterhalter as the couple’s favourite portrait painter.

To find out more join visiting art historian Eugene Barilo von Reisberg for a fascinating adventure in royal iconography as he explores the hidden meanings and semantic connotations in Winterhalter’s portraits of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and unpicks a secret language of visual symbolism in the details of dress, jewellery, and accessories that transmit messages of power, sovereignty, love, and devotion.

To book a ticket to ‘So Like & So Beautifully Painted: Portraits of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert by Franz Xaver Winterhalter’ contact the Friends of Te Papa.

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