Wandering the back rooms of Thrubworth, Alfred Tolland identified some of the found objects: “That oil painting on its side’s the First Jubilee. Very old fashioned in style. Nobody paints like that now.” [BDFR 74/ ]
The first jubilee, of course, was Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887, as opposed to her Diamond Jubilee in 1897. The jubilees were commemorated with innumerable paintings, busts, coins, plates and other curios, which became so commonplace that even today most have little value as antiques. No wonder that the painting was not on display at Thrubworth in 1946.
We show a painting of the first jubilee by William Ewart Lockhart, 1846-1900, a fellow of the Royal Scottish Academy, who spent 3 years completing the painting. Lockhart’s work has been described as”marked by considerable bravura of execution and much brilliance of colour, but are rather wanting in refinement and subtlety, (Caw in Dictionary of National Biography, 1901). ” The painting cast aside at Thrubworth may have been even less distinguished than Lockhart’s, but we suspect that Alfred Tolland’s comment, “very old fashioned in style,” referred not to the refinement or subtlety of the work but rather to the realistic representation that was predominant at the time but was being replaced by the evolving styles of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Realistic painting was being eclipsed by photographs. In homes less prosperous than Thrubworth, a photographic portrait of Victoria, like those of Alexander Bassano (1829-1913), was one of the common mementos of the Queen’s Jubilee.