Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Queen Victoria Preferred Black Ties to White

Queen Victoria's dispute with an artist over whether to paint her son wearing a black tie or white tie can finally be judged by the public.

The miniature portrait at the centre of the dispute is going on display for the first time from 16 March to 4 November at The Queen's Gallery, Hollyroodhouse. Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, is painted by acclaimed Scottish artist Kenneth Macleay. The original was praised when exhibited in Edinburgh but Queen Victoria requested a miniature of Alfred based on the watercolour portrait, but asked for alterations. In particular a black tie was to replace the white tie in the original. After painting a black tie, Macleay decided it looked better white and changed it back.

In a letter to Queen Victoria dated August 4 1864 he stated 'The Queen will observe that I have done the miniature in a black handkerchief at her majesty's command, but on again seeing the large picture (as it was painted in a white tie by the Queen's desire at first, and all the arrangements in accordance and with reference to the white,) that it would quite spoil it to put it in a black handkerchief - in which opinion the president and all the members of the Royal Scottish Academy who have seen it, entirely concur, I have left it white.'

In a reply written in pencil on the reverse of the artist's note, Queen Victoria noted 'The Queen does not like this miniature as well as the original and she wishes Mr Macleay to alter it by and large.'

The monarch had her wish and the final image shows her son with a black tie. The miniature will be part of the Diamond Jubilee exhibition - Treasures from the Queen's Palaces.

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