Thomas Sully (American, 1783–1872)
Oil on canvas
36 x 28 3/8 in. (91.4 x 71.5 cm)
Bequest of Francis T. S. Darley, 1914 (14.126.1)
Sully executed this oil study over the course of four sittings at Buckingham Palace, the first of which was March 22, 1838. That day, the artist wrote a fairly precise description of Victoria's appearance in his journal, noting that she was "of good form, particularly the neck and bosom." While propriety forbade him from calling attention to her décolletage, he felt free to feature the attractive expanse of her back. The greatest license Sully took in portraying Victoria as a lovely young woman was to express her sensuality. This comes across in the oil study, in which he described her neck and shoulders in the succulent, painterly style that characterizes his finest work.