Sunday, February 8, 2015

Antique Image of the Day: Princess Alexandra and her Grandchildren, 1897

Photograph of Alexandra, Princess of Wales
(later Queen Alexandra) with her grandchildren.
Frame by Fabergé, 1897
The Royal Collection
Alexandra, Princess of Wales (later Queen Alexandra, consort of King Edward VII) was known in public as a charming, dignified and sympathetic woman. Her love for her country was great as was her love of the people of England. Despite crippling illness, increasing deafness, much tragedy and a philandering husband, she made frequent visits around England. She spent a good amount of time bringing cheer to those who suffered from illness and was often seen quietly visiting hospitals. On one of those visits, she met Joseph Merrick (not “John” as many people think) who is more commonly known as “The Elephant Man.”

In private, Alexandra was a doting mother and grandmother who loved evenings at home with her children and her dogs. She was considered to be jolly and easy-going as well as fiercely protective of her family.

This 1897 photograph of Alexandra, taken just four years before she ascended as Queen Consort, shows her affection for her grandchildren. Seen here cuddling two of her grandchildren, Lady Alexandra and Maud Duff—the daughters of her daughter, Princess Louise (Princess Royal and Duchess of Fife) and the 6th Earl Fife.

Of note is the frame which is another example of Alexandra’s love of Fabergé. The frame of gold, silver-gilt, guilloché enamel, diamond, mother-of-pearl takes a neo-gothic form which shows a stylistic transition from the ideals of late Victorian design to the soon-to-come sensibilities of the Edwardian.

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