Art & Art History ETDs

Publication Date

5-1-2012

Abstract

This thesis examines four extant calotype albums from the collection of Prince Albert and, contains approximately 383 images ranging in date from 1850-1859. I propose that the photographs in these albums, which belong to Queen Victorias husband, operate as fragments of the visual world and form a pictorial autobiography of the Prince Consort, offering frames behind the throne. It is my contention that Prince Albert uses the mimetic faculty of the photograph and its placement within the album to become an object of narrative, autobiography, and identity. This thesis will also attempt to contextualize the historical impact of being a foreigner within the politically charged marriage to Queen Victoria and how Prince Albert used his active engagement in the collection of art and his burgeoning interest in promoting new technologies to elevate his social status. In reading Prince Albert's albums as historical texts we discover that, while Prince Albert's albums contribute to Victorian culture, provide an insight into his royal public and viii private life, they also archive photography as a new form of representation. As formal albums, they enshrine the passion and desire to collect and possess in a manner similar to the engraved folio collections of antiquities put together by such scholars and connoisseurs as William Hamilton and the Comte de Caylus from the previous century. The albums, as paper galleries, showcase the miniaturized subject\u2014artifacts, collectibles, people, places, and events\u2014and turn these subjects into objects of collection, possessions to be archived for posterity in photographic form. For Prince Albert, these albums as collections become, in part, conversations to the self that illustrate the broader scope of this visual autobiography during his twenty year marriage to Queen Victoria. As a suspended conversation, the albums are a collection of sentiments, a series of individual utterances, a private monologue formulated by Prince Albert to visually validate and evoke the many pleasures and accomplishments in his life. In contrast to the historical focus on Queen Victoria's life, Prince Albert's albums allows us to see a different view\u2014his world as he organized and created it.'

Language

English

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Art History

Level of Degree

Masters

Department Name

UNM Department of Art and Art History

First Advisor

Buick, Kirsten Pai

First Committee Member (Chair)

Anderson-Riedel, Susanne

Second Committee Member

Moore, Allison

Keywords

Prince Albert, Calotypes, 19th Century Photography, Victorian England

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