Colorized by Jordan J. Lloyd, based on an original negative by Leonida Celdesi
Taken May 1857, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (Royal Collections / Public Domain)
Whilst famous for her mourning dress following the death of her husband Prince Albert in 1861, this portrait of Queen Victoria (1819–1901) was taken in 1857; a no doubt happier time from the Royal Family, reflected in a more colourful outfit. This portrait is most likely taken in the conservatory of Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, where I took some colour references for the background.
"Were occupied for 2 hours being all photographed, (we & the 9 Children) on the Terrace, by Caldesi. Dear Mama was also to have been done with us, but unfortunately she was not quite well & could not leave her room. Went several times during the day, to see her.” — Queen Victoria, Journal Entry : Tuesday 26th May 1857. Place of writing: (Principal Royal Residence) Osborne House. Queen Victoria’s Journals.
Queen Victoria died from a cerebral haemorrhage aged 81. Reigning during the largest expansion of the British Empire, she was granted the title of Empress of India by Parliament vote in 1876. Notably, she was the first British reigning monarch to be photographed after camera technology became increasingly popular, and was first captured on camera in c.1845. This portrait, commonly attributed to John Jabez Edwin Mayall in 1860, was in fact taken by Leonida Caldesi in 1857.
Original caption reads,
“In April 1857, Caldesi was invited to Buckingham Palace to photograph the royal children. This was the first of several successful commissions in 1857, which included a visit to Osborne House in May with his business partner Mattia Montecchi. On 26 May, Caldesi took the well known group portrait of the royal family on the terrace at Osborne, including all nine of Queen Victoria's children. Caldesi fulfilled further royal commissions over the next few years, including portraits of the young Princess Beatrice in 1859.”