Queen Victoria paintings discovered in cottage

Two original paintings by Queen Victoria which showcase her artistic talent – and love of colour – have been discovered in a cottage brimming with antique treasures.

The works of art, believed to date back to the second half of the 19th century, were found among family heirlooms by astonished antiques experts at Hanson Auctioneers.

The large oil paintings depict vases of flowers. One features purple irises in a green vase with a posy of small flowers and other items placed in or around it. The other depicts a vibrant mix of pink, yellow, orange and white blooms in a blue vase resting on yellow fabric. Hydrangeas dominate the composition while a posy of flowers rests at the base of the vase.

Helen Smith, from Hansons, with a painting of irises by Queen Victoria
Helen Smith, from Hansons, with a painting of irises by Queen Victoria – Credit Mark Laban Hansons

The artworks  are now set for auction with a guide price of £8,000-£10,000 each at Hansons London on January 28. However, they could fetch much more due to their royal pedigree.

Chris Kirkham, associate director of Hansons London, said: “I was astounded and delighted in equal measure when I discovered the paintings. I was asked to value a few items at a cottage in Surrey but had no idea of the magnitude and importance of the antiques tucked away.

“The royal items were purchased decades ago by the seller’s grandfather. He lived on the Isle of Wight and we understand he acquired them at a sale which offered items relating to Osborne House, Queen Victoria’s holiday home on the island. Both paintings bear letters of provenance on the reverse.”

The letters, dated October 1945, state, ‘With reference to the two pictures said to have been painted by Queen Victoria, which you bought at the Carisbrooke sale. I have since seen Lord Carisbrooke and he says there is no doubt that they were in fact painted by the late Queen Victoria’.

Mr Kirkham said: “There could be no better person to vouch for these paintings because Alexander Mountbatten, 1st Marquess of Carisbrooke, was the last surviving grandson of Queen Victoria. He was born Prince Alexander Albert of Battenberg in 1886 and passed away in 1960 at the age of 73.

“The Isle of Wight is home to Carisbrooke Castle Museum. It was  founded in 1898 by Princess Beatrice, Queen Victoria’s youngest daughter. The Princess died in 1944 and a sale of some items took place around that time.”

Helen Smith, from Hansons, with a painting by Queen Victoria of flowers including hydrangeas
Helen Smith, from Hansons, with a painting by Queen Victoria of flowers including hydrangeas – Credit Mark Laban Hansons

The seller, from London, said: “My grandfather collected amazing objects over the course of his life. He was fascinated by antiques and collectables. He originated from the Isle of Wight so it ‘s no surprise he bought items at the Carisbrooke sale. It’s always hard to part with family heirlooms but my father, who inherited them, has passed away. They deserve to come out of the shadows to be seen and enjoyed by others.”

Chris Kirkham said: “These paintings display the colourful side of a woman who famously dressed in black  after the premature death of her beloved husband Prince Albert in 1861. Queen Victoria lived another 40 years, passing away at the age of 81 in 1901 after more than 63 years on the throne.

“Perhaps painting those floral canvases and creating other works of art provided a little contentment and happiness in the years that followed Albert’s death. The finds also demonstrate that artistic talent runs in royal veins.

“We hear a lot about King Charles’s paintings so it’s particularly interesting to see the work of his ancestor Queen Victoria. According to the Royal Collection Trust, domestic life provided a common subject for her watercolours and drawings. These studies demonstrate that theme.

“For any collector of royal memorabilia this is a rare opportunity to own unique works of art by one of Britain’s best known monarchs. The paintings really deserve to be on public view to honour the UK’s royal heritage.”