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The Main Wing, Pavilion and Terrace, Osborne House.

Osborne was an important setting for early royal photography

Queen Victoria’s collecting

Following Prince Albert’s untimely death in 1861, Queen Victoria’s relationship with photography changed significantly. However, she continued many of the precedents established by her joint collecting with Albert during the 1850s. This included documenting royal residences and the collection.

A central figure in Queen Victoria’s later collecting of photography was the photographer Cornelius Jabez Hughes, who began his career in 1847 as an assistant to John Jabez Edwin Mayall, before assuming ownership of Mayall’s studio from 1855. Hughes established his own studio on the Isle of Wight where he frequently photographed Queen Victoria and members of the royal family and documented the interiors and exteriors of Osborne House and its surroundings.

During his lifetime, Prince Albert had expressed a particular interest in the issue of fading, giving £50 to the Photographic Society to examine solutions to this issue. Arguably the most ambitious project that Queen Victoria commissioned from the Isle of Wight-based photographers Hughes & Mullins, was a project to document her photographs collection between the late 1880s and 1891, creating a catalogue of Queen Victoria’s private negatives and photographs, which spanned more than 2,000 negatives.