Queen Victoria commissioned this enamel on gold miniature in 1839. She chose for the job a favorite miniaturist, Henry Pierce Bone (1779-1855) who was celebrated for his detailed and flattering portraits. Here, we see the head and shoulders of Count Alexander of Mensdorff-Pouilly, known for his handsome face and attractive physique. Pierce used, as his model, A.E. Chalon’s (1781 – 1860) full-length double military portrait in watercolour of the count and his cousin, Prince Augustus of Saxe-Coburg, also dating from 1839.
Of the original watercolor, Queen Victoria expressed her delight in her Journal:
I went downstairs to see my dear cousins sitting; Chalon has made delightful likenesses of all; and of Alexander and Augustus in their uniforms quite beautiful and so like; … Alexander is so handsome and has such beautiful eyes and eye-brows.
Count Alexander Mensdorff-Pouilly was the third son of Emanuel, Count Mensdorff-Pouilly, and Sophie, daughter of Francis Anthony, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. A first cousin to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, the Count married in 1857 Countess Alexandrine Marie of Dietrichstein-Proskaw-Leslie and, in the process, became Prince Mensdorff-Dietrichstein von Nicolsburg after the death of his father-in-law.
A general of cavalry in the Austrian army, he would go on to become an Austrian diplomat and would also serve as Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs in St Petersburg.
He died in Prague in 1871.
On the reverse of the miniature, on red enamel, is the date and Bone's signature along with:
Mensdorf London Oct
Painted by Command
of her Majesty by Henry
Pierce Bone Enamel Painter
From a Draw g. By A.E. Chalon