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Albert and Victoria’s collection shows photographers’ working methods

Dr Ernst Becker (1826-88)

'Archduchess Marie Henriette, Duchess of Brabant (1836-1902)' 1853-54

RCIN 2082372

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Glass plate negative of an oval watercolour portrait of Archduchess Marie Henriette, Duchess of Brabant (1836-1902) by Francois Bernard (RCIN 912131). Created around 1853, the work presents the young duchess standing, inclined to the right (here left) but facing front, and is wearing an off-the-shoulder dress and holding flowers. Marie Henriette was the daughter of the Archduke Joseph of Austria. In 1853 she married Leopold, Duke of Brabant, later Leopold II, King of the Belgians.

Queen Victoria was keen to receive a likeness of her new cousin by marriage, and informed King Leopold I, the Duchess's father-in-law, on 6 July 1853 that she had been sent "a charming acquarelle of [the Duchess] - with wh. we are delighted. It is by Bernard - & I hear very like."

The negative has been masked out, indicating the photographer's intention to crop the work to the smaller square.

The glass plate negative has been photographed showing the coated side and therefore the image appears laterally reversed. A print from this negative (RCIN 2800633) can be found in an album of photographs collected and arranged by Prince Albert.

  • Creator(s)

    Dr Ernst Becker (1826-88) (photographer)

    After François Bernard (b. 1814) (artist)

    Marie Henriette, Queen of the Belgians (1836-1902)
  • Acquired by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert

  • Object type(s)
      • visual works
        • photographs
          • negatives
            • glass plate negatives