Images of Queen Victoria
Throughout the Victorian period, Queen Victoria was seen as a beacon of hope and change. This is reflected in many aspect of Victorian living, including home-wear and the poetry that surrounded the time. This was clearly portrayed in the Victorian exhibit at the Neville Public Museum. All aspects of life seemed to try to incorporate her.
The first thing that seemed very interesting was that Queen Victoria’s face was placed on plates. They looked like a sort of formal wear that one would only bring out for very special occasions. First, I found this to be highly disrespectful. Why would one put food on top of the picture of your Queen? Is it not similar to disrespecting her in public? Even in the poem Crowned and Wedded by Elizabeth Barrett Browning it says “Or if ye say, Preserve the queen! oh, breathe it inward low–
She is a woman, and beloved! and `tis enough but so.” Through her being a queen and eventually, getting married, she has become a woman that is much beloved. Thus why would they put her face on a plate? After much more thought, I realized it was not about having her face on the plate, but having her presence in their home. Most would never have the honor of hosting the Queen in their homes. This was something that brought the Queen closer to the common people. It was almost like she was there with the family for dinner. It seemed more logical to place her at the table, in whatever means possible.
Similarly, I found a headboard that had a large mirror in it. Above this mirror was the bust of a stoic young woman whose head was adorn with a crown. It seemed to me that this was the face of young Victoria herself. The young face seems to be ever watching and filled with a slight sense of hope. In the poem The Young Queen by Elizabeth Barrett Browning it is said:
Perhaps our youthful Queen
Remembers what has been–
Her childhood’s rest by loving heart, and sport on grassy sod–
Alas! can other’s wear
A mother’s heart for her?
But calm she lifts her trusting face, and calleth upon God.
In connection to what was said by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, The face on the headboard seems hopeful and yet mournful. The eyes appear to be looking up towards God. It is almost like this was to be put over the bed so that when one slept, the Queen looked over you. She stands by your side like a mother would, continually protecting her children when they are the most vulnerable. Victoria was looked at as the mother of the people and similarly, the people looked to her for care and compassion. They had a horrible king before and this was their new beginning. She was the one to change the country.
Not only was her face seen on the headboard, but it can also be found on this chair. If one looks at the arm rests and the beck of the chair, faces can be made. out. These are the face of Victoria herself, repeated throughout. She seems to not only protect the inhabitants during the night by her watchful eye on the headboard, but also support you. The chair supports and comforts one after a long day. A chair welcomes those who are visitors to stay and talk for a while. This chair brings the Queen into all of these things. She supports the country and comforts the people from their woes, why not you in your own home? Similarly, she is welcoming and brings new people and ideas to the land. Why could this not also be true for the home?
Victoria played a large role in the home. She was ever present and hidden throughout. It was a common thing to have a picture of sculpture of her somewhere in your home. It seems like she was almost a good luck symbol. It also showed your great taste. Due to her huge popularity, it seems that it would have been odd not display her in the home. If you could afford even the smallest of figurines, it was support of your country. Victoria change the face of the British monarchy thorough her love for her people, as well as, their endearing love for her. Both The Young Queen and Crowned and Wedded are two poems that show, despite the past quarrels with the crown, there can always be a change for the better. I believe that Victoria did that without flaw.