Queen Victoria bought her first picture by Johann Michael Wittmer in 1847. It was the Ossian, above, presented to Albert as a gift on the Queen's own birthday.
Unlike Franz Xaver Winterhalter, Wittmer was not on call at the palace for job-work. Wittmer's independent creations were purchased on the open market.
Seemingly, they represented the absolute ideal of easel-painting according to the standards and tastes of high Victorianism. Albert himself acquired the fantasy-scene below, purporting to depict the artist Raphael drawing on a barrel-end. He also bought Wittmer's Aesop, at bottom.
|Raphael's first sketch of the 'Madonna della Sedia'|
Many important Dutch and Italian paintings from past centuries came down to Queen Victoria by inheritance. Most famously, Charles I had assembled a spectacular collection. It had to some extent been plundered in the 1650s after the King's execution, yet masterpieces in ample numbers remained. Somehow or other though, genuine Renaissance/Baroque art was very frequently less pleasing to the eyes of the 19th century than newly-made Renaissance/Baroque pastiches.