Queen Victoria, left, is well-known for having a great interest in art
They were intimate pictures she never wanted the public to see.So when Queen Victoria’s family portraits – sketched by herself – were leaked to a journalist, she sought an injunction.
In one of the first cases of its kind, the furious monarch applied to the courts to stop publication of the drawings in the 1840s. Now, more than 150 years later, the public will be offered the rare chance to see them when copies of six of the pictures go to auction.
They were shrouded in secrecy for most of Victoria’s life and only trusted friends and family were allowed to own copies.
Her injunction was one of the earliest examples of high-profile figures turning to the courts to prevent reporting on their private lives – a facility now popular with philandering celebrities.
The etchings are expected to make up to £1,500 when they are sold at Dominic Winter Book Auctions in Cirencester on January 25.
Chris Albury, senior catalogue auctioneer, said: ‘This is one of the earliest examples of high-profile figures taking injunctions out against the Press. The sketches were for Queen Victoria’s own amusement, and not meant for circulation among the public.
‘She felt her life had been infringed upon. The sketches are very casual and the figures are not posed. It offers an insight into their lives. The public wouldn’t have known what they looked like behind the scenes.’
The six etchings include sketches of her children taking a bath, playing with their pets and being tended by their nurse.
One shows her eldest daughter, Victoria, the Princess Royal as a baby crawling along the floor clutching a toy. Each portrait is accompanied with a caption written by the Queen.
She wrote ‘Before going to Bed’ underneath a sketch of her three children enjoying bath time.
The injunction was taken out after the images were leaked to royal gossip columnist Jasper Tomsett Judge, who hoped to produce a catalogue of the Royal Family’s most intimate moments.
He bought them for £5 from an apprentice to the Queen’s printer, who had been trusted with making copies for Victoria’s friends and family.
In the 1840s, the Queen produced 62 such drawings, which she then made into etchings so they could be reproduced for her friends and family. The injunction lasted for most of the Queen’s lifetime until it was decided the original prints should become part of the Royal Collection.
The owner of the etchings up for sale, who remains anonymous, found them in a box in the family attic and had no idea of their importance until they consulted experts.