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Joseph Nash (1809-78)

Windsor Castle: The Waterloo Chamber, 5 June 1844 dated 1844

Watercolour and bodycolour over pencil | 28.2 x 36.8 cm (sheet of paper) | RCIN 919785

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  • A watercolour showing the Queen entering the Waterloo Gallery, wearing the red ribbon of the Order of St Catherine, with the Emperor Nicholas I of Russia, in a dark blue uniform and wearing the Garter. Signed and dated at bottom right: Joseph Nash 1844.

    The genesis of the idea for a 'Waterloo Gallery' goes back to George IV's earliest plans for rebuilding Windsor, evolved during discussions with his principal artistic adviser Sir Charles Long, later Lord Farnborough. In Jeffry Wyatville's various schemes for the Upper Ward of the castle, submitted in 1824, provision was made for such a space in a number of alternative locations, but the room was not created until the 1830s, during the reign of George IV's brother and successor William IV. The new room, with its pierced and fretted timber ceiling and panelled walls embellished with Gibbons carvings (salvaged from the former chapel), occupies the central area of the building on the north side of the Upper Ward. It was constructed in what had hitherto been an open space known as Horn Court. The series of full- and half-length portraits by Sir Thomas Lawrence, for the display of which the room was created, was begun as early as 1814 when George IV had formed the idea of commissioning Lawrence to paint the allied sovereigns, military commanders and statesmen most closely associated with the overthrow of Napoleon. This great project, delayed by the escape of Napoleon from Elba, was resumed in 1815 after the victory of the allied forces at the Battle of Waterloo. Between 1818 and 1820 Lawrence travelled round Europe to complete the series, which included his masterpiece, Pius VII. Further embellishment of the upper walls (which are shown plain in this drawing) and of the roof was undertaken by the decorating firm of J.G. and J.D. Crace in 1860.

    Wyatville's remodelling of the State Apartments had created a series of rooms very well suited to the elaborate rituals of a State Visit and from the 1840s Queen Victoria put them to regular use for this purpose. In this watercolour, Queen Victoria leads the Emperor Nicholas I of Russia in to dinner, in the course of his State Visit. The larger rooms, including the Waterloo Chamber, continue to be used in this way to the present day.

    Nash appears to have first worked for Victoria and Albert in 1844, when he was commissioned to record events from the visits of, first, the Emperor of Russia and then Louis-Philippe, King of the French. A version of this watercolour was reproduced as a lithograph by Nash in his publication Views of the Interior and Exterior of Windsor Castle (1848), which he dedicated to the Queen. The introduction states: "On the various occasions when the Continental Sovereigns were entertained by Her Majesty at Windsor Castle, Mr Nash had the honour of receiving Her Majesty's commands to make Drawings of the scenes illustrative of the state and ceremony which distinguish the Royal hospitality". As well as such narrative scenes, Nash's publication also included illustrations of rooms and spaces within the Castle (see, for example, RCIN 919788), which must have been made with Victoria and Albert's permission. Some watercolours by Nash connected with the publication are in the Royal Collection; three were acquired by Victoria and Albert for their watercolour albums, but the majority were purchased in the twentieth century. A complete set of 26 watercolours, which are probably the final works on which the lithographs in the publication were based, is in the collection of Anglesey Abbey (National Trust).

    This watercolour was originally mounted by Victoria and Albert in View Album II. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert compiled nine View Albums during their marriage. These albums contained watercolours and drawings documenting their life together and were arranged in chronological order. The albums were dismantled in the early twentieth century and rebound in new volumes both in a different arrangement and with additional items, but a written record of their original contents and arrangement still exists. 

    Commissioned by Queen Victoria (£17 10s.)

  • Medium and techniques

    Watercolour and bodycolour over pencil


    28.2 x 36.8 cm (sheet of paper)

  • Alternative title(s)

    Queen Victoria dining with the Emperor of Russia in the Waterloo Gallery, Windsor Castle, 5 June 1844