Ludicrous or lucid? Medieval costumes and royal politics in mid-nineteenth century Britain, Ian Hunter
This paper explores the motivation and impact of the use of medieval imagery on the notion of nineteenth century queenship by examination of Sir Edward Landseer’s painting, the 1842 Bal Costumé portrait, and a 1867 group statue ‘The Parting,’ by William Theed. The painting presents Victoria and Albert in formal thirteenth-century costume, the memorial statue portrays the couple dressed in ninth-century Anglo-Saxon clothing. This paper explains how what may initially appear to be ludicrous anachronistic representations of the royal couple can be explained as a lucid attempt to manipulation the symbolic image of Victoria as a wife, mother and head of state. This paper also explores how the use of chivalric medieval iconography, particularly of a Germanic nature, bolstered the position of Prince Albert as consort and husband.