Reginald Easton (1807-93)
Easton was recommended to Queen Victoria by her daughter, Princess Helena (the sitter's mother), and as a consequence some of his work remains in the Royal Collection...
Until recently this portrait miniature of a young child, holding a bunch of grapes and seated in the English countryside was thought to depict Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein, Prince Albert’s sister.
The miniature was sold in 2006 with a typewritten note attached to it by Dr G.C. Williamson identifying the sitter as Princess Marie Louise. Williamson had compiled a catalogue of miniatures belonging to Princesses Marie Louise and Helena Victoria in the 1920s, whilst they were living in Schomberg House on Pall Mall, which gave this identification substantial weight. It is now thought that Williamson’s note belonged to a different miniature entirely, particularly as the Royal Collection has in their possession a copy of this portrait by Clementine Antoinette Pepin [RCIN 420304] inscribed on the reverse in Queen Victoria’s hand, ‘Prince / Albert of / Schleswig / Holstein b. / Feb: 26 – 1869 / – 2d son to Pcess / Helena of Gt / Britain & Ireland / & Prince / Christian of Schleswig /Holstein. / – Copied by Mlle. / Pepin after R. Easton’.
Pepin’s copy is thought to have been commissioned by Queen Victoria in 1871 alongside a portrait of Albert’s sister Princess Helena Victoria [RCIN 420305]. Princess Helena would have been a year old in her portrait at this date and Prince Albert would have been two; Princess Marie Louise was not born until the following year in 1872. Another portrait in the Royal Collection [RCIN 400743] dating to two years later in 1873, painted by George Koberwein, depicts the young Prince Albert of Schleswig-Holstein, no longer wearing a dress but with the same almond-shaped eyes, button nose and full-lips.
Prince Albert of Schleswig-Holstein was the grandson of Queen Victoria and second son of Princess Helena and Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein. Like his siblings, Prince Albert spent his childhood at Cumberland Lodge in Windsor Great Park and like his elder brother, was expected to embark upon a military career. He fought in the Prussian Army, being promoted to Lieutenant Colonel but was excused from service in the First World War by the German Emperor, his cousin Kaiser Wilhelm II, as he would be fighting the British.
In 1921 Albert became Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg and head of the House of Schleswig-Holstein, succeeding his childless cousin Duke Ernst Gunther of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg. Albert never married but had an illegitimate daughter, Valerie Marie, Duchess of Arenburg who was accepted by her aunts Princesses Helena Victoria and Marie Louise. Valerie Marie committed suicide in Nice in France in 1953.
Reginald Easton was a self-taught miniaturist, who commenced his artistic career as an engraver. He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1835 until a few years before his death. His portraits of children were particularly well-regarded and earned him many commissions from the aristocracy. He was recommended to Queen Victoria by her daughter, Princess Helena and as a consequence some of his work remains in the Royal Collection.