Portrait of Queen Victoria Holding Portrait of Prince Albert, negative July 1854; print
1889, Bryan Edward Duppa and Gustav William Henry Mullins, carbon print. Royal
Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2013
The photographic age began in 1839, just two years after the 18-year-old Queen Victoria ascended to the throne. The Queen and her consort Prince Albert embraced the new medium. By 1842 they were collecting photographs and spending time together mounting family portraits into albums, and exchanging photographs as gifts at birthdays and Christmas.
A Royal Passion: Queen Victoria and Photography is a new exhibition at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles that explores Queen Victoria's lifelong devotion to photography, and includes more than 40 photographs by some of the most influential and prolific photographers of the 19th century.
The invention of the new medium of photography was announced first in Paris by Louis-Jacques-Mande Daguerre, then in London by William Henry Fox Talbot—at the beginning of 1839.
The Great Exhibition opened in 1851 at the Crystal Palace, London. For many people in attendance, this was the first time they had seen a photograph. The early 1850s witnessed the rise of the photographic exhibition in Britain and the beginning of photographic societies around the country. Victoria and Albert's patronage and support were important to its rise in popularity.
Over the course of her long reign, the queen was photographed as loving mother, devoted wife, grieving widow, and powerful sovereign. She was the first British monarch to have her life fully recorded by the camera, and her portraits became emblematic of an entire age.
Read: Queen Victoria