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Additional Information

The Nicoll Family

Engraved in ‘The Bengal Hurkaru and The India Gazette’ 21st July 1848, illustrated p.1;
Vaughan Wilkins, “The Last Romance of a Prime Minister” in ‘Modern Woman’, July 1937, illustrated p.23.

Her Majesty the Queen and the Prince Consort are depicted in the Home Park at Windsor in 1845 astride their horses Tajar (the grey on which the Queen is seated – a most distinctive horse with dappled haunches and strikingly dark fetlocks) and Hammon, a chestnut. Tajar was acquired by Prince Albert in 1844, and was often ridden by the Queen, while Hammon was presented to the Queen in 1844 by the King of Prussia. Both horses were painted by Herring in 1844. With them, in the foreground, is Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) on his Shetland pony.

The painting comes from the Nicoll family, whose forebears, HJ and D Nicoll, were pioneers of large-scale retailing in London and Paris (with premises also in Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham). It is believed that this painting was commissioned to be part of a decorative scheme for their shop at 114-120 Regent Street, which was opened in 1845 (the choice of slate as a support for an oil painting being most unusual), and indeed the royal couple are depicted wearing Nicoll’s paletot. This ‘paletot’ (a cloak made of alpaca wool from llamas) was patented by Nicoll and sold so well that it formed the basis of his fortune.

The painting was reproduced as an engraving in a newspaper in India in July 1848 as an advertisement for the famous paletot.

Gourlay Steell was appointed to the post of Animal Painter for Scotland by Queen Victoria after the death of Landseer in 1873. This prestigious award, along with his appointment as Painter to the Highland and Agricultural Society, ensured him a virtual monopoly of animal and sporting commissions in Scotland, although he also painted genre and historical scenes. He exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1865-80 and at the Royal Scottish Academy from 1832-94, becoming an Associate of the latter in 1846