Above: designed by Princess Louise (Duchess of Argyll) in 1893, *this marble statue shows her mother, Queen Victoria, in her coronation robes in 1837 at the age of 18.
“Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, VA, CI, GCVO, GBE, RRC, GCStJ (Louisa Caroline Alberta; 18 March 1848 – 3 December 1939) was the sixth child and fourth daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
“…From her early years, Louise was a talented and intelligent child, and her artistic talents were quickly recognised. On his visit to Osborne House in 1863, Hallam Tennyson, the son of the poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson, remarked that Louise could “draw beautifully”. Because of her royal rank, an artistic career was not considered. However, the queen first allowed her to attend art school under the tutelage of the sculptor Mary Thornycroft, and later (1863) allowed her to study at the National Art Training School, now The Royal College of Art, South Kensington…”
Rachel Cooke wrote in The Observer of 29 Dec 2013:
“Louise was a practical girl; in the Swiss Cottage built for the children at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, she learned to cook, a skill she practised, to the amazement of her staff, for the rest of her life. She wove a carpet for her beloved brother, Bertie (later Edward VII). But art was her first love and once she’d persuaded her mother that she might have her own studio – no mean feat, given that the widowed Victoria wanted her daughters to breathe the same miserable air as her 24 hours a day – there was no holding her back. She studied hard, and became a sculptor; wanting to be taken seriously, she insisted on being paid for her work. Was she any good? Opinions vary, but *the magnificently chilly statue of Victoria she made to mark the golden jubilee, and which still stands outside Kensington Palace, pulls off the trick of flattering its subject even as it suggests the iceberg that stood in for the Queen’s heart.
Art and life, for Louise, were intimately connected. Her friends and associates included Rossetti, Millais, Whistler and, more controversially, George Eliot (who was living in sin). Her clothes were fashionable, her jewellery sometimes homemade. A supporter of suffrage for women, she was in touch with both Josephine Butler and Elizabeth Garrett. No wonder, then, that she enjoyed her share of love affairs. No wonder, too, that she refused to be married off by her increasingly panicky mother to a European royal; exile was not for her. Lorne, offered as an alternative, was not precisely a catch. He washed rarely, his clothes were eccentric, he was convinced he had second sight, and he refused to let his wife use his billiard table. But she accepted him as the least bad option and went with him to Canada when he was appointed its governor – even if she didn’t stay long. The marriage was not happy. But it was convenient. They could live apart, together…”