The portraits of daily life commissioned by Queen Victoria could fetch £ 25,000

A collection of rare photographic portraits offering a glimpse into Queen Victoria’s life is expected to go up to £ 25,000 at auction.

The archive features 69 oval enamel miniatures including Victoria, her husband Prince Albert, their children and Queen’s faithful servant John Brown.

It also offers a behind-the-scenes look into Victoria’s surroundings, with a glass-plate image of her ornate living room in the Grand Hotel in Grasse, on the French Riviera.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert (Hansons / PA)

Victoria commissioned Scottish experimental photographer Alexander Lamont Henderson to capture images of everyday life.

The black and white image of Victoria’s living room shows her desk, centered under a large chandelier and crammed with framed family photographs, with many more on the surrounding furniture.

Victoria was a frequent visitor to the French Riviera from 1880 onwards, and the collection also includes 23 slides of square lanterns depicting scenes in Grasse and 31 slides of views and people in Nice.

He awarded Henderson a royal warrant in 1884, which allowed him to photograph the royal family, and the queen also commissioned a series of enamels to be made from earlier plates, including Albert, who died in 1861, and John Brown.

One of the miniature portraits
One of the miniature portraits (Hansons / PA)

The images have been hidden in a closet for decades after being inherited by Henderson’s family.

His great-grandson Roderick Williams, a 63-year-old electrical engineer from Coltishall in Norfolk, said he hoped the historic work could be kept in a museum.

Mr. Williams said Henderson worked as a photographer for Queen Victoria until her death in 1901.

“We think he caught his eye with his experimental color work with glass plate lantern slides and glazes,” he said.

Glass slides of France in the Henderson collection
Glass slides of life on the French Riviera in the Henderson collection (Hansons / PA)

He added: “In addition to taking pictures of Queen Victoria, he has worked with glass plate negatives taken by other photographers but unfortunately much of his work has been lost or destroyed.

“This is one of the reasons I reluctantly decided to sell. Perhaps this archive deserves to be in a museum or royal collection to allow his work to be preserved and enjoyed by future generations. “

Henderson, born in Edinburgh, died in 1907 and some of his works were donated to the London Guildhall Museum, but were destroyed during the air raids of World War II.

Jim Spencer, associate director of Hansons Auctioneers, said Henderson’s work was scarce, hence the importance of the archive.

Alexander Lamont Henderson
Alexander Lamont Henderson in 1901 (Hansons / PA)

“This is a fascinating collection of unique images that take us back some 140 years,” he said.

“They provide an insight into Queen Victoria’s life from the Victorian era and also capture evocative scenes in France.

“His work has been revolutionary in many ways. It’s a pity that much of it was destroyed during the Blitz, but this personal collection has survived intact thanks to his family. “

The collection, estimated at between £ 15,000 and £ 25,000, will be sold online at the Hansons Library auction on 13 October.


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