Jun 6, 2012
‘What a blessed invention photography is!’
— Queen Victoria, 20 March 1859
Dr Sophie Gordon on the history of early photography in this country through the images of Victoria and Albert as both collectors and sitters.
There are over 400,000 photographic images in the Royal Collection. One of the earliest photographs is of Prince Albert, taken by William Constable in 1842. From the 1840s, both Queen Victoria and Prince Albert began to show very active enthusiasm for photography.
Prince Albert supported the new medium and helped photography to receive greater scientific, artistic and public attention, particularly through his involvement in the Great Exhibition of 1851.
While Prince Albert’s principal interests lay with science and the arts, Queen Victoria’s taste was for portraits of people, her close family,
relations and people from all walks of life. Many albums offer a fascinating portrait of society during Queen Victoria’s reign, from British and European royalty to the gardeners and seamstresses who worked for the Queen.