The First Art Stamp

     The first definitive stamp showing portrait of a monarch based on a painting was issued by the Postal Administration of Canada. The Queen Victoria stamp with a denomination of 12d (see below) was released on 14 June 1851. The stamp is based on a painting by Alfred Edward Chalon. The portrait was engraved by Alfred Jones after the original artwork: Alfred Edward Chalon, "Queen Victoria", 1837. Scott No. 3.
After: Blair Stannard, Canada, on RCSD (thanks, Blair!).

    Chalon was the son of a Huguenot refugee from Geneva who settled in London, in the area of Kensington, and the younger brother of John James Chalon (1778-1854). The brothers, both unmarried, lived in Kensington for the rest of their lives. Alfred entered the Royal Academy schools in 1797. He became a member of the Associated Artists in 1807, resigning the following year to found the Sketching Society with his brother. He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1810 and was elected an associate of the Academy in 1812 and a full Academician in 1816.
    Alfred is the better known of the two brothers and enjoyed the greater success during his lifetime—in fact he was one of the most fashionable watercolor portraitists of his time. His graceful portraits, usually about fifteen inches high, typify early Victorian art. His portrait of the young Queen Victoria was reproduced on many early Colonial stamps, and he was appointed Painter in Water Colours to the Queen. He also painted historical and literary subjects, as well of caricatures.,%20Alfred%20E.&category_name=19th%20Century&request=complete

    The above stamps are parts of the miniature sheet Scott 889, issued by the New Zealand postal administration on 13 January 1988. The stamp on the left reproduces the NZ stamp Scott No. 8, issued in 1859. A stamp in a same design was issued in 1855, 1p dull carmine, Scott No. 1.

    The miniature sheet Scott 889 was issued by the New Zealand postal administration on 13 January 1988. It commemorates the centenary of the Royal Philatelic Society of New Zealand.

   Two fascinating souvenirs were made available to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the first adhesive postal stamps, GB, 1840. For the centenary in 1940 of the first stamp worldwide an exhibition was planned which needed to be aborted as a result of WWII. Two souvenir sheets, each comprising a block of four labels with the Chalon portrait of Queen Victoria, were printed in recess, one in black and the other in blue, by Perkins Bacon and Co. Ltd.

     It was believed that most of these sheets of labels had been overprinted, but a supply of the original, unoverprinted sheets was discovered. One of each was inserted in the copy of the Stamps London 90 Souvenir Handbook.

      The original painting is shown above.

      Helmut and Alison Gernsheim, in their book  "The History of Photography, 1685-1914" (New York, St. Louis and San Francisco: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1969), p. 118 relate: "In the early days of daguerrotype portraiture, Queen Victoria asked the fashionable miniature painter Alfred Chalon whether he were not afraid that photography would ruin his profession, 'Ah, non, Madame', he replied in a mixture of French and English, 'photographie can't flatère'." Originally published in "The Women at Home", London,vol. VIII, 1897, p. 812.

    Link: London 90 Exhibition, found on this site.

Published: 11/13/05. Revised: 11/13/05.
Copyright © 2005 by Victor Manta, Switzerland.
All rights reserved worldwide.

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