Queen Elizabeth II’s role as a curator monarch over the course of her long reign has exerted a profound impact on Canadian art and culture, building upon centuries of patronage of Canadian artists, architects, and cultural institutions by past generations of royalty, most notably members of the royal family who resided in Canada for years at a time. A number of Canada’s past royal residents, including Queen Victoria’s daughter Princess Louise and granddaughter Princess Patricia, were accomplished artists in their own right who raised the profile of Canadian galleries by founding new cultural institutions, attending events, submitting their pieces for judgement in Canadian exhibitions, and donating their work. Over the course of her reign, Queen Elizabeth II has loaned or donated art to Canadian cultural institutions and acquired works by Canadian artists for the Royal Collection, expanding the scope of royal involvement in the arts in Canada and setting precedents for artistic patronage by future generations in the royal family.
“When members of the royal family undertake public engagements, their clothing and accessories are closely scrutinized and fashion designers often experience increased exposure and sales,” says Carolyn Harris, a royal historian in Toronto and author of Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting. “Sentaler is the latest example of the impact of royalty on fashion.”
Click here to read “Fresh Coat” in York University Magazine
“Since the 17th century, royal patronage of the arts has brought princes and actresses together. Until the First World War, royalty usually married other royalty, so these relationships did not end in marriage. The women who combined a successful career on the stage with a high-profile relationship with a prince, however, became the celebrities of their time, expanding the role of women in public life.”
As Governor General, Lorne founded the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and the National Gallery of Canada and undertook extensive tours of western Canada, proposing the names Alberta and Lake Louise in honour of his wife, Princess Louise Caroline Alberta. Lorne’s patronage of Canadian artists set precedents for future Governors General and his books promoted Canadian landscapes, culture and history to a wide international audience.
How royal parents dealt with raising their children over the past thousand years, from keeping Vikings at bay to fending off paparazzi.
William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, are setting trends for millions of parents around the world. The upbringing of their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, is the focus of intense popular scrutiny. Royalty have always raised their children in the public eye and attracted praise or criticism according to parenting standards of their day.
Royal parents have faced unique challenges and held unique privileges. In medieval times, raising an heir often meant raising a rival, and monarchs sometimes faced their grown children on the battlefield. Conversely, kings and queens who lost their thrones in wars or popular revolutions often found solace in time spent with their children. In modern times, royal duties and overseas tours have often separated young princes and princesses from their parents, a circumstance that is slowly changing with the current generation of royalty.
In March, April and May 2017, I will be teaching one of my most popular courses at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies: Peter the Great and the Building of Saint Petersburg. Click here to register
When Peter became czar in 1682, Europe had become quite foreign to Russia. Fascinated by the West, Peter was determined to transform Russia into a great European power. In this course, we’ll discover the traditional Russia of Peter’s childhood, his Grand Tour of Europe and his subsequent dream of building St. Petersburg, a new city to match his vision of the country.
My eight week afternoon course about Queen Marie Antoinette of France and the French Revolution begins January 11, 2017 at the University of Toronto, School of Continuing Studies. All are welcome.
Click here for more information and to register.
More than 200 years after her execution, Queen Marie Antoinette is still one of the most famous and controversial figures in European history. In late 18th-century France, her reputation influenced debates about the role of women in politics, their families and the arts. Austrian-born, her position at the top of French society informed criticism of the monarchy and contributed to the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789. Her influence on popular culture continues today.
Her Royal Highness The Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, Marchioness of Lorne was the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria and vice-regal consort of Canada from 1878 to 1883 (born 18 March 1848 in London, United Kingdom; died 3 December 1939 in London, United Kingdom). Louise was the first member of the royal family to visit British Columbia. As vice-regal consort, she promoted the arts in Canada, including the founding of the National Gallery of Canada and Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. Lake Louise and the province of Alberta were named in her honour.
The cover of Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting features Franz Xaver Winterhalter’s painting of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and their five eldest children, which is now part of the Royal Collection at Buckingham Palace. The heir to the throne, the future Edward VII, stands next to his mother, Queen Victoria, while Prince Alfred toddles in front of his parents. The royal couple’s two eldest daughters, Princess Victoria and Princess Alice are gathered around the cradle of their infant sister, Princess Helena.
The painting reflects the image of domestic harmony that Victoria and Albert presented to the public. The royal influence on parenting spread throughout the English speaking world. Mothers and fathers from a variety of social backgrounds took their children on seaside vacations and hosted Christmas celebrations where the entire family gathered around a decorated fir tree (a custom from Prince Albert’s childhood).
Behind palace walls, relations between the royal parents were more complicated. Victoria had little affinity for young children, writing, “an ugly baby is a very nasty object – and the prettiest is frightful when undressed. Until about 4 months; in short as long as they have their big body and little limbs and that terrible froglike action.” Albert spent more time in the nursery but the demanding educational program that he drew up for his elder children made the future Edward VII miserable. When her children grew up, Victoria expected to remain the dominant influence in their lives and shape the upbringing of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Victoria and Albert are just one of the twenty-five sets of British and European royal parents from the past thousand years profiled in my forthcoming book. Click here for more information and to pre-order Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting.
In January and February 2016, I will be teaching an eight week course on Wednesday afternoons about Artists and Their Royal Patrons at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies. Click here to register
For centuries, artists sought out royal patrons to advance their careers. European monarchs were eager to fill their courts with artists to demonstrate their own acumen and prestige. Through lectures, images and discussions, Carolyn Harris will lead you through a lively exploration of the relations between great artists and their royal patrons. These include Hans Holbein and Henry VIII, Leonardo da Vinci and François I, Anthony van Dyck and Charles I, Peter Paul Rubens and Marie de Medici, and Élisabeth Vigée-LeBrun and Marie Antoinette. We will look at Catherine the Great, who helped found the Hermitage Museum, and Queen Elizabeth II, who is appreciated as a “curator monarch” for her part in opening the British Royal Collection to the public. You’ll learn more about the collaboration and tension between royalty and artists that produced some of Europe’s most famous works of art and established collections now featured in great museums around the world.