Artist: After Thomas Sully (1783-1872)
Year: c. 1850
Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: Height - 95", Width - 59"
1993.01.01 Belmont Mansion Association purchase
Queen Victoria in Her Robes of State Ascending the Throne in the House of Lords
The Acklens purchased this painting in New Orleans in 1855 for, according to family tradition, $5,000. It was brought to Belmont and probably hung in the art gallery until the 1859-60 remodeling when, it appears, this space was created to hang the painting. We know the painting hung in this location until Adelicia’s death in 1887. From here, it went to Washington DC, then to Richmond where we acquired it in 1993.
Sully, the leading portrait painter of his day, was commissioned by the St. George’s Society of Philadelphia to paint a portrait of the Queen. Sully went to London and Queen Victoria granted permission for the portrait and sat for the portrait. He was the first American to paint a European head of state from life. In 1838 Sully finished a half-length version for the Queen’s collection.
He painted two full length portraits in 1838 and 1839: one for the St. George’s Society and one for St. Andrew’s Society of Charleston, SC (The St. George’s Society sued over the other painting) The Charleston painting was destroyed during the Civil War. Joseph Le`gare` (1795-1855) of Quebec painted two life size copies and one smaller copy. Only one of the larger versions plus the smaller painting survives. The Acklen version may have been painted in Sully’s studio, or could be an illegal copy made while the Philadelphia painting was touring the country for exhibitions in New York, Boston, Montreal, Quebec and New Orleans.