Based on an original watercolour by James Roberts, this oil painting was created by William Corden II for Queen Victoria. It shows her Christmas tree at Windsor Castle in 1850.
The German custom of bringing a tree into the house and decorating it with candles and gifts was observed enthusiastically by Victoria and Albert. At Windsor they took delight in preparing trees for each other as well as for the children and the royal household, and regularly gave trees to schools and army barracks.
Prince Albert is often credited with being the first person to introduce the Christmas tree to England, having imported spruce fir trees from Coburg, Germany in 1840. In reality, however, it was Princess Charlotte who brought festive yew trees to the English Court during the latter half of the 18th century. But paintings such as this one, reprinted in periodicals such as The Illustrated London News and The Graphic during the 1840s and 50s, revealed details of the royal Christmas to the masses and helped to establish the tradition of decorated trees we recognise today.
- Full title:
- Queen Victoria's Christmas Tree, 1851 (oil on panel)
- Painting / Image
- William Corden
- © The Bridgeman Art Library
- Usage terms
Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 2017 / Bridgeman Images
- Held by
- The Bridgeman Art Library
- Bridgeman Images 399067
- Article by:
- Judith Flanders
- Popular culture, The middle classes
Judith Flanders describes how many of our own Christmas traditions – from trees and crackers to cards and carols – have their origins in 19th-century industrial and commercial interests.