A display of 40 watercolours from the Queen's week in Paris, either presented to or commissioned by her as a souvenir of the visit.
Queen Victoria's momentous state visit to Paris in August 1855 was the first by a British monarch in over 400 years, intended to cement the alliance between France and Britain in the Crimean War.
The queen was a passionate collector of watercolours; throughout her marriage to Prince Albert she compiled souvenir albums recording their journeys, events and trips. Knowing this, the following Christmas Napoleon III sent her a gift of ten watercolours capturing her visit.
Victoria was thrilled with the ‘ravishing drawings’ and commissioned a further 15 watercolours, including views of her apartments at Saint-Cloud on the outskirts of Paris – a palace that was razed to the ground during Napoleon III’s downfall in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870.
Another album containing scenes from a lavish ball Victoria attended at the Hôtel de Ville on 23 August was sent by the Préfet de la Seine, Baron Haussmann, completing the collection.
The full range of 40 watercolours are on display, more than half of which have never been exhibited before.