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Albert Edward, Prince of Wales - A Dercohe Process Presentation Portrait, 1875
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Albert Edward, Prince of Wales - A Dercohe Process Presentation Portrait, 1875

Measurements: Overall: 22.5cm (8.75in) x 16.3cm (6.25in)



Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (later Edward VII), in the uniform of the Rifle Brigade, and wearing the breast stars of a Knight of the Garter, a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (military division), and the breast badge of the House Order of the Grand Duchy of Saxony (Ernestine Order). Hand coloured photographic portrait fired on to enamel contained within its original champeleve enamel slip decorated in the Persian taste with flowers and foliage in the manner of the Lucien Falize (1839-1897), the whole contained in a ormolu frame surmounted with ribbons and the Prince of Wales’s feathers. The portrait signed ‘MD’ for Mathieu Deroche (1866-1904) and dated to the reverse: ‘Procédé Deroche, 39 Bvd. des Capucines, Paris, 1875’. Contained within a double door presentation case.

During the French Second Empire (1852-1870), the ‘Procédé Deroche' was at the forefront of a new phase in miniature portraiture. The development of photography had resulted in a marked decline in the demand for traditional miniatures painted on ivory or enamel, yet no one had developed a means of producing an equally durable image. Accordingly, in about 1860, Mathieu-Deroche, operating from premises in the  Boulevard des Capucines, developed a photographic transfer process that permitted him to create faithful black and white, sepia, and even in coloured portraits on enamel plates. In the case of the latter the enamel plates were hand painted before firing. The ‘Procédé Deroche' was thus a successful marriage of painting and photography into a delicate and unalterable object.

The present portrait combines the technical expertise of Mathieu-Deroche, with the type of innovative enamel work pioneered by Lucien Falize. Falize was one of the first to apply plant forms to jewellery design, foreshadowing the Art Nouveau style. His firm's impressive displays at the 1878 and 1889 Expositions Universelles received great international acclaim. Likewise Deroche’s award-winning process was awarded gold and silver medals at the Universal Exhibitions of 1867, 1878, 1889 and 1900. Though unsigned the present champeleve enamel work may represent a collaboration at the third Exposition Universelle, held from 1 May to 10 November 1878, and that celebrated the recovery of France after the 1870–71 Franco-Prussian War. The exhibition attracted support from across the British empire with the United Kingdom display under the control of a royal commission, of which the Prince of Wales was president - a royal duty that happily facilitated the opportunity to revisit the Café des Anglais, the Moulin Rouge and, of course, Le Chabanais.