Royal Photography

The final part of Art, Passion & Power: The Story of the Royal Collection (the always-watchable Andrew Graham-Dixon on the BBC) looked at ‘Modern Time’, from the late 19th Century to today.  Photography featured twice.

Princess Alexandra, carrying her daughter Louise on her back, W. & D. Downey, 1867 (Getty Images)

First, Princess Alexandra (1844-1925).  The Royal Collection Trust records: ‘Alexandra, Princess of Wales, later Queen Alexandra, initially engaged with photography through compiling photographic albums and producing collages consisting of professional photographic prints layered over her own watercolour paintings. Princess Alexandra later adapted her artistic talents to taking photographs, capturing daily events, family, friends, pets and notable occasions with her Kodak cameras. Her photographs were published and shown in various exhibitions, including the 1904 Grand Kodak Exhibition.’   A remarkable photograph shows the Princess giving her daughter a piggyback ride, a degree of human informality rarely ever seen in the Royal Family.

Queen Elizabeth II, Dorothy Wilding, 1952

Second, Dorothy Wilding (1893-1976).  Wilding, who began her photographic career as an apprentice to Marian Neilson, was the first woman to be appointed as the Official Royal Photographer for the 1937 Coronation.  She is best known for her bright high key portraits. The first stamps issued with Queen Elizabeth II’s portrait are known as Wilding philatelic series after the photographer.  Wilding stamps were used until 1967, which must make her photographs the most widely reproduced ever.

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