L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in period costume, oil sketch by Winterhalter, 1851

The royal pair, wearing costumes of the Charles II period, are dressed for the "Stuart Ball" which was held in the throne room of Buckingham Palace the 13th of June, 1851. (The throne room was used as the palace's ballroom until the addition of the new ballroom which was completed five years later.) The French artist Eugène Lami designed the Queen's gown, which she later described in her famous journal:

"... My costume was of grey moiré antique, ornamented with gold lace, - a very long waist & sleeves trimmed with old lace. The petticoat showing under the dress which was all open in front, was of rich gold and silver brocade (Indian manufacture) richly trimmed with silver lace... In my hair I wore an arrangement of pearls. The shoes and gloves were embroidered to match the dress."

Lami, known for his frothy watercolor depictions of frothy royal events, left us this commemorative view of the scene.
The Queen and Prince Albert. (Detail of above.)

The Queen's gown, though rather faded and tarnished, and perhaps missing some of its elements, still survives.


  1. Oh you should totally hashtag this as #TheOriginalDress because clearly this dress is no longer striped blue and gold as depicted by Winterhalter, but white and gold! And by coincidence, I recently heard a rerun on NPR about the color blue in Homer's time (http://www.radiolab.org/story/211213-sky-isnt-blue/)

    1. Very interesting. Of course the Queen, herself, described the dress as "grey moiré antique", so who knows what the original color really looked liked - and it's even possible that Winterhalter "upped the saturation" in his painting...?

  2. Are you sure the painting describe the Victoria and Albert? first they are not look alike them, second the costume is 16th century Baroque, not the 18th century, we can see the men's outfit.

    1. Yes, it's definitely them. All the documentation and the painting by Lami corroborate this. And, actually, the costumes are designed to portray the - 17th - century; the event was called the "Stuart Ball", after all. (The ladies' gowns were adapted to flatter contemporary 19th century sensibilities, of course.) Thanks for the question! : )