Kate curates ‘Patron’s Trail’ at National Portrait Gallery Victorian photography exhibition

The Duchess of Cambridge visited the National Portrait Gallery on a snowy London evening tonight, where a new exhibition is opening – ‘Victorian Giants: The Birth of Photography’. The exhibition features ‘The Duchess of Cambridge Patron’s Trail’.

The National Portrait Gallery’s website states that the exhibition is ‘the first to examine the relationship between four ground-breaking Victorian artists: Julia Margaret Cameron (1815–79), Lewis Carroll (1832–98), Lady Clementina Hawarden (1822–65) and Oscar Rejlander (1813–75).

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‘Drawn from public and private collections internationally, the exhibition features some of the most breath-taking images in photographic history. Influenced by historical painting and frequently associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, the four artists formed a bridge between the art of the past and the art of the future, standing as true giants in Victorian photography.’

The exhibition features: “striking portraits of sitters such as Charles Darwin, Alice Liddell, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Thomas Carlyle, George Frederic Watts, Ellen Terry and Alfred, Lord Tennyson.”

the duchess of cambridge admires the work of victorian photographers during her visit to the national portrait gallery (kensington palace)

Duchess kate views the Lewis Carroll section of the ‘victorian giants’ exhibition (kensington palace)

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Kate, the gallery’s patron since 2012, has been heavily involved in the staging of the exhibition and has collaborated with the gallery in choosing images for ‘The Duchess of Cambridge Patron’s Trail’.

An enthusiastic amateur photographer herself – with plenty of photos of her own children being released to the public, such as Princess Charlotte’s recent first day at nursery – the Duchess has selected her favourite works and written captions that will displayed alongside them. Catherine has also written the foreword to the exhibition catalogue in which she discusses her interest in 19th-century photography, the subject of her undergraduate dissertation whilst an art history student at the University of St Andrews.

The Royal also explains that photographs of children, which feature predominantly within the exhibition, are of particular interest to her.

This is the first exhibition that the NPG has featured a Patron’s Trail.

During her visit this evening, Catherine toured the gallery, seeing the exhibition put together as a whole for the first time. She was seen admiring the works.

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The Duchess also points out that Queen Victoria, and especially Prince Albert, became enthusiastic patrons of the new art form following its invention in 1839. One of the exhibition’s four featured photography pioneers, Oscar Rejlander, undertook commissions for the Royal Family and works by him have been borrowed for the exhibition from the Royal Collection.

In her catalogue foreword Kate wrote: ‘As a Patron of the National Gallery, and an enthusiastic amateur photographer, I am delighted to support Victorian Giants.

‘This period in the history has long interested me […] These photographs allow us to reflect on the importance of preserving and appreciating childhood while it lasts. Children held a special place in the Victorian imagination and were celebrated for their seemingly boundless potential.

‘This notion still rings true for us today and it underpins much of my official work and the charities I have chosen to support and, indeed my role as the mother of a young family.

‘Victoria Giants affords us another opportunity to celebrate the National Portrait Gallery’s unique and brilliant programme of research, acquisition and display.’

Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director, National Portrait Gallery, London, said: ‘The National Portrait Gallery has one of the finest holdings of Victorian photographs in the world. We are delighted that our Patron, HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, has supported this exhibition in such a direct and personal manner, given her longstanding interest in this material.

“As always, it is privilege to collaborate with her. As well as some of the Gallery’s rarely seen treasures, such as the original negative of one of Lewis Carroll’s portraits of Alice Liddell and images of Alice and her siblings being displayed for the first time, this exhibition will be a rare opportunity to see the works of all four of these highly innovative and influential artists.’

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Victorian Giants: The Birth of Art Photography runs from 1st March to 20th May 2018, at the National Portrait Gallery in London

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