Queen Victoria’s Indian Portraits and the Durbar Hall
This special Interest Day will focus on Victorian encounters with India. The first lecture will focus on the Indian portraits decorating the corridors of Queen Victoria’s favourite palace, Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, at a time when she had been made Empress of India. Austrian artist Rudolf Swoboda was commissioned by Queen Victoria to paint authentic portraits of her Indian subjects to represent ‘various types of the different nationalities’ of India. Swoboda produced some extraordinary paintings during his two visits to India and the Queen was thrilled, calling them her ‘Beautiful Things!’ If Queen Victoria couldn’t travel to India – India had to come to her!
Swoboda’s royal commission was inspired by the success of the Colonial and Indian Exhibition of 1886 when Swoboda had painted the portraits of some of the Indian artisans who had been brought to London from India to be ‘live exhibits’ in the show. At the heart of the second lecture will be the Durbar Hall. Durbar is an Indian word meaning both a state reception and a hall in which gatherings were held. The lecture will centre around an exquisitely carved Durbar Hall created and shipped over from India to serve as a backdrop for the Colonial and Indian Exhibition. It is now the centre piece of Hastings Museum and Art Gallery having been gifted to the town by the Brassey family.
Dr Geraldine Alexander is an art historian and researcher who is currently working on the archive of 20th century photographer Fay Godwin at the British Library.
Dr Helen Rufus-Ward is a published art historian and lecturer specialising in early Christian and Byzantine art.
Tickets are now available for this event at a price of £5.00 per head. All those people booked will be emailed a link to the meeting prior to the event. All people who booked in November 2020 will be contacted directly. There will be a total of 90 tickets available, and these can be booked by using our updated booking form for Jan-Apr 2021. A copy can be downloaded by clicking
For any queries or enquiries, or if you have booked a ticket and not received your email with a link to the Zoom lecture prior to the meeting, please contact Sir Philip Anson on 01323 411906.