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Glass plate negatives

Albert and Victoria’s collection shows photographers’ working methods

Explore Glass plate negatives

      Owing to Prince Albert (1819-61) and Queen Victoria’s (1819-1901) extensive commissioning of photographers, their collection includes a significant number of nineteenth-century glass plate negatives. Together, these objects form an important material record of early photographic processes and provide an insight into the working methods of many photographers, including Roger Fenton (1819-69), Frances Sally Day (1816-92), and John Jabez Edwin Mayall (1813-1901). Some negatives serve as valuable documents of the early means of recording works of art by photography, regularly featuring details omitted from the resulting photographs. Others reveal the editing and cataloguing process undertaken by photographers in association with the royal family. Where negatives have been scratched, it can be assumed the image was unfavourably received by the royal family. Numbers marked into the plate reveal cataloguing systems undertaken by the royal family since the nineteenth century.

      This selection from the royal couple’s negative collection includes intimate family portraits, views of royal residences, reproductions of artworks and portraits of Crimean War veterans as well as notable Victorian personalities.

      Glass plate negative of a full length portrait of Victoria, Princess Royal and Princess Alice. The sisters are seated together on a decorative ironwork garden seat. The Princess Royal holds a walking stick with Princess Alice leaning on her

      Examples of photograph negatives from Prince Albert's collection

      Glass plate negative of the Terrace and Pavilion Wing, Osborne House 
The glass plate negative has been photographed showing the coated side and therefore the image appears laterally reversed. Prints from this negative do not seem to exist in the Collecti
      Landscape, nature and architecture

      In the 1850s, Albert and Victoria began actively commissioning photographs of their residences and animals

      Glass plate negative showing a man holding a painting or drawing on an easel for the purpose of photography. The painting is possibly related to the Franz Xaver Winterhalter's (1805-73) 1859 portrait of Princess Beatrice (1857-1944), RCIN 401029. 
The gla
      Photographs of Objects and Works of Art

      Albert and Victoria used photography to document a series of objects and artworks significant to them

      4 ¾" x 6.5" glass plate negative showing Queen Victoria meeting wounded Crimean War veterans in the gardens of Buckingham Palace. The Queen and members of the Royal family are standing in a small group to the left with a number of the veterans
      Records of Important Events

      Albert and Victoria negatives document important events

      Glass plate negative of a full length group portrait of royal family members taken after the wedding of Prince Albert Edward (1841-1910) and Princess Alexandra (1844-1925). The family are posed around a bust of Prince Albert. The sitters include Princess
      Memorial works

      Following Albert’s premature death, Victoria commissioned the creation of photographs, artworks and monuments that memorialised her beloved husband