Our featured work for June is a vibrant watercolour by Joseph Nash depicting Queen Victoria’s sumptuous Private Sitting Room at Windsor Castle.

Windsor, the Queen's Private Sitting Room by Joseph Nash

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The Queen’s Private Sitting Room, as shown in this work by Joseph Nash, appears as a highly ornate interior furnished with paintings, gilded furniture and sculptures. The room lay within the King’s Tower at the south-east corner of the Castle.

The watercolour is part of a series of 25 Views of the Interior and Exterior of Windsor Castle which were commissioned by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Referring to his series in 1848, Nash commented:

When we reflect that this Royal Residence has been held in esteem by a long and splendid line of monarchs, ancestors of our present gracious Queen… that is remarkable for its intrinsic magnificence… that it lives in the memory of all who have visited it… it can hardly be deemed presumptuous to anticipate in favour of this work.

Windsor Castle was founded by William the Conqueror in 1070 and was favoured as a principal royal residence by successive monarchs over the centuries. Charles II initiated major alterations in the 1670s and further changes were made under George III and George IV by the architects, James Wyatt and his nephew Jeffry Wyatville. Many of the ceremonial and state rooms at Windsor are the work of both architects.

Remembered primarily as an architectural draughtsman, Joseph Nash was born at Great Marlow in Buckinghamshire, the son of a clergyman. He was educated at Manor House School in Croydon, where his father was proprietor. He later became a pupil of Augustus Charles Pugin, the Anglo-French artist and architect, under whom he learnt draughtsmanship and lithography. Nash travelled to Paris with Pugin in 1829 to make drawings for Paris and its Environs (1830). He also lithographed Pugin’s drawings for Views Illustrative of the Examples of Gothic Architecture (1830).

In 1831, Nash married Rebecca Dorothy Elwin, with whom he had two children, Joseph (born 1835), who became a minor marine artist, and Mary Dorothy (born 1838). The illustrations Nash drew and lithographed for four volumes of Mansions of England in the Olden Time (1839–49) are considered amongst his best work. He also illustrated novels and books of poetry and, between 1834 and 1848, made plates for The Keepsake and Other Annuals. He exhibited his work chiefly at the British Institution, the Old Watercolour Society and the New Watercolour Society. He was elected a member of the Old Watercolour Society in 1842.

Nash is said to have suffered an attack of ‘brain fever’ in 1854. The contents of his studio were sold later that year. However, he continued to exhibit works until shortly before his death in 1878, two days after his 69th birthday, at his home in Kensington.