Painting Returns To Queen Victoria's Dressing Room After 107-Year Absence

By Culture24 Staff | 21 November 2008
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A picture of Queen Victoria's dressing room at Osborne House in the 1870s

Queen Victoria's dressing room at Osborne House in the 1870s, which included La Siesta

A painting bought by Queen Victoria for £200 in 1841 is to be restored to her dressing room at Osborne House after being bought by English Heritage.

La Siesta, a depiction of three Italian sunbathers by German artist Franz Xaver Winterhalter, hung in the Queen’s dressing room at the Isle of Wight mansion for 60 years.

It will be positioned in its exact former location after selling for £73,250 in an auction at Sotheby’s, a purchase largely aided by The Art Fund, who contributed almost £50,000 towards the acquisition.

A picture of the painting, with three Italian girls resting, one of whom is asleep

The Queen described the picture as "beautiful" when she bought it in December 1841. © Sotheby's

Michael Hunter, who is leading a drive by English Heritage to recapture the look of the house at the time of Victoria’s death in 1901, spoke of his pride at restoring the painting to the Queen’s seaside retreat.

“It’s wonderful to be able to return this magnificent painting to Queen Victoria’s dressing room at Osborne House after such a long time,” he said. “This intimate study will be restored to its original location in the room where it can be enjoyed by the thousands of visitors who come to Osborne House each year. We are very grateful to The Art Fund for this important grant.”

The Art Fund director David Barrie added: “This exquisite painting by one of the foremost portrait painters of the mid 19th century was chosen by Queen Victoria herself when she was just 22. She would have seen it in her dressing room every day on waking and retiring when at Osborne House.”

The Queen’s decision to commission Winterhalter for more than 100 portraits was a mark of her dissatisfaction with British artists, and she likened him to Van Dyck in a letter to her daughter upon Winterhalter’s death from typhus in 1873.

La Siesta had previously been owned by the late Sir David Scott, who bought the piece for £1,260 in 1972.

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