Thursday, October 2, 2014

Coronation 1902

After forty years of dutiful subordination, the Princess of Wales at last was crowned as Queen Alexandra on the 9th of August, 1902. She brought in a Danish painter named Laurits Regner Tuxen to paint her at the moment in the ceremony where she kneeled praying under a canopy of state supported by four duchesses. The six pageboys were largely lost in the background of that painting (at top) but were prominent in numerous official photographs. The joint coronation photo with King Edward (below) confirmed the fact that ermines were slaughtered on an unprecedented scale to provide royal robes of sufficient amplitude.

"NO CROWN WITHOUT A CROSS" reads the forbidding inscription on the coronation gift object (above) presented to the King by the Queen.

A pair of thrones were built in Paris for the occasion. The one above was Alexandra's, with her stylized monogram woven into the upholstery. Edwin Austin Abbey became the King's official painter for the occasion (as seen below) after John Singer Sargent declined the job. "The artist’s viewpoint was a specially built box in the tomb of Edmund Lancaster in the north transept. Unfortunately, it was a dull day and Westminster Abbey appeared more than usually gloomy and dark. But despite this Abbey was profoundly impressed with what he saw: ‘It was a sight indeed. They had white satin dresses and long trains of crimson velvet and ermine capes – trains and their coronets in hands. They came by twos or threes and dozens, and were marvelous to behold. I never saw so many jewels in my life."

Alexandra kept a coronation photograph of herself in a Faberge-style frame. Her sister, the dowager Tsarina Marie Feodorovna (below) represented a direct source for work from the hands of the great Russian jeweler. Both sisters were faithful collectors.