Monday, March 11, 2013

Jewelry in Portraits: Queen Adelaide, 1836

Queen Adelaide, 1836
Painted by Sir Martin Shee
Image is in the Public Domain
Photo Source: Wikipedia

by Angela Magnotti Andrews

Queen Adelaide stands in a portico of the hallowed halls of Windsor Castle. Blush pink roses peek in through the balustrade which, combined with the faint mountains in the distance, place the location of this sitting on an upper floor of the castle. It is May 1836, and Her Majesty is surrounded by close friends watching her 'sit' for a portrait.

She wears a red velvet gown with vee neck- and waistlines. The pleated bodice and train of her gown are lined in spotted ermine, and her lace cherusque frames her stately face. Upon her head she wears a black feathered hat with a jeweled brooch pinned to its central band. Her hair is coiffed in ringlets in the hurluberlu fashion of the day, and her tight ringlets hide any earrings she may be wearing.

A lovely necklace graces her neck, and at her waist shimmers a diamond stomacher fastened just above her white satin a-line underskirt. On both wrists she wears what appear to be matching pearl bracelets, and on her left fourth finger she wears a ring with a shiny gemstone. In her right hand she holds a white handkerchief, and on her feet she wears a pair of flat ballet-like slippers.

Painted by Martin Shee in 1836, this full-length portrait now hangs above the staircase in Buckingham Palace. Records from 1841 and 1891 report that a portrait of Queen Adelaide by Martin Shee hangs in the Grand Livery Room of Goldsmiths’ Hall {London Interiors, p. 228 and Wheatly, p. 124}. This is sound evidence for the existence of two full-length portraits of Queen Adelaide painted by Martin Shee in 1836.



1. “1836 Queen Adelaide by Sir Martin Archer Shee (Royal Collection).” Grand Ladies Site. February 20, 2011. Accessed January 23, 2013.
2. Orr, Clarissa Campbell, ed. Queenship in Britain, 1660-1837: Royal Patronage, Court Culture and Dynastic Politics. ManchesterManchester University Press, 2002.
3. Roberts, Hugh. The Queen’s DiamondsLondon: Royal Collection Publications, 2012.
4. Shee, Martin Archer [Jr., sic] of the Middle TempleLife of Sir Martin Archer Shee, P.R.A., Volume the Second. London: Longman, Green, Longman, and Roberts, 1860. 

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