Osborne House (1845-51). Listed Building. East Cowes, Isle of Wight, by Thomas Cubitt (1788-1855), with Prince Albert (1819-1861). Prince Albert "preferred Royal Engineers and builders to architects" (Turnor 86) for his building projects, most probably because he could have more control over the planning, and the two men got on well together. The original Georgian mansion on the site was demolished, and an entirely new and much bigger one built: "Albert provided the vision and exercised a strong influence on the house's design and construction in an Italian Renaissance palazzo style. The house was clad in the builder's Belgravia fashion, which conformed to the 'client's brief'" (Stewart 75). As well as the state rooms and royal apartments, the interior has a grand corridor, which functions as a sculpture gallery, providing display space for works by the Prince's favourite sculptors.

Prince Albert and Cubitt also designed the beautiful formal terraced gardens outside, which harmonise with the Italianate style of the house: "Cubitt advised on structural matters, while on style the prince had the guidance of Professor Ludwig Gruner, an artist and expert on Raphael from Dresden, who had accompanied him on his Italian journeys" (Mawrey and Groves 100).

After the Prince's death, the Queen wanted the house kept just as he left it, as a memorial to him (see York 167). But in 1891-92 a substantial addition was made — an exotic Durbar Room was added by the late-nineteenth-century architect J. R. Mann, working with Kipling's father John Lockwood Kipling, and the Sikh craftsman Bhai Ram Singh ("Osborne House, East Cowes"). Reflecting the Queen's position as Empress of India, and her keen interest in the subcontinent, it served as "an elaborate banqueting hall," with "every surface, from floor to ceiling, ... ornately embellished" ("History").

Commentary by Jacqueline Banerjee. Image Source: "[Osborne House, Isle of Wight, England]." Library of Congress LC-DIG-ppmsc-08987. Photomechanical print, photocrom colour, c. 1890-1900, from a series of "Views of England." [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the Library of Congress and (2) link your document to this URL.]

References

"The History of Osborne House: A Glimpse into the History of a Royal Palace." English Heritage. Web. 11 April 2012.

Mawrey, Gillian, and Linden Groves. The Gardens of English Heritage. London: Frances Lincoln, 2010. Print. See especially pp. 99-109.

"Osborne House, East Cowes." British Listed Buildings. Web. 11 April 2012.

"[Osborne House, Isle of Wight, England]." Library of Congress. Web. 11 April 2012.

Stewart, Jules. Albert: A Life. London & New York: I. B. Tauris, 2011. Print.

Turnor, Reginald. Nineteenth Century Architecture in Britain. London: Batsford, 1950. Print.

York, HRH The Duchess of, with Benita Stoney. Victoria and Albert: Life at Osborne House, London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1991. Print.


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