Exhibition Shows Queen Victoria's Interest in Nudes

Queen Victoria may have been more into nudes than the prude she’s believed to be, as a new exhibit reveals the British monarch’s artistic interest in the naked body. Victoria & Albert: Art & Love at the Buckingham Palace is the first exhibition to show the queen’s enthusiasm for her more passionate side. The show, which opens at The Queen’s Gallery at the palace on March 19, details how the royal couple commissioned a large fresco in 1847 of a naked Neptune amid some also nude, romping nymphs. “Prince thought it rather nude,” the painting’s artist wrote to his friend. The queen, however, said not at all.” Queen Victoria also gave her husband three largely nude paintings during their marriage for his birthday. But the show's pièce de résistance is the rarely displayed “secret picture,” which the queen commissioned in 1843 as a surprise birthday present for Prince Albert. It depicts her in an intimate pose with her hair released from its usual bun, showing “ the queen had a more varied attitude to sexual morality in art and culture,” says one art history professor from the University of London.