Marble Sculptures of the Left Forearms Made From Queen Victoria’s Babies

This post was originally published on this site
The royal children spent many happy times at Osborne and we can still see objects relating to their childhoods on the estate today. One of the more unusual ways that Queen Victoria kept souvenirs of her children’s childhood was by commissioning marble copies of their forearms and feet.
These examples are marble sculptures of the left forearms of Prince Alfred (1844–1900), Princess Louise (1848–1939) and Princess Beatrice (1857–1944). They were carved by Mary Thornycroft, who was commissioned by Queen Victoria to sculpt the arms based on plaster casts made from her sleeping babies.

Victoria had great trouble showing simple affection towards her children. She didn’t have the normal upbringing that would have enabled her to be a normal mother herself so she expressed her love through things.
In total, Victoria amassed a collection of 14 marble hands and feet, which were kept under glass domes to preserve their pristine whiteness. She also kept the first baby shoes of her eldest son Prince Albert Edward, who became Edward VII.
The first shoes worn by Prince Albert Edward (later King Edward VII).

The inscription which reads: “The Prince of Wales first shoes worn – July – 1842”.
What these objects show is what her words couldn’t express which is this deep, fierce passionate love for her children, and for the recognition that childhood is so important – the thing that she felt she never had. There’s so much love in these marble hands and feet.
It’s really interesting because it’s so unusual today.
A cast taken of the left foot of Victoria, Princess Royal, taken by her mother, Queen Victoria.
The sculptor, Mary Thornycroft, worked for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert for many years and excelled in her depictions of the couple’s nine children. Each carving was based on a plaster cast made from moulds taken while the child was asleep. There’s an inscription on this example that tells us Princess Louise was only 3 months old when the plaster cast for the sculpture was made.
Louise was the most artistic of Queen Victoria’s children and Mary Thornycroft taught her modeling and sculpture. She also attended the National Art Training School (later the Royal College of Art) and became an accomplished artist. Louise’s life-size sculpture of her mother in her coronation robes remains outside Kensington Palace today.
Statue of Queen Victoria at Kensington Palace, London.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.