Manchester Art Gallery

The Queen was in the Parlour, Eating Bread and Honey

Object description

A full-length portrait of a medieval queen standing in a parlour, dressed in long, elegant fabric. She is eating bread from her left hand and holds a pot of honey in her right; she stands before a counter, upon which are shelves holding bottles that contain different liquids. Behind the queen hangs a drape, and to her right, upon a pot is a tall wicker basket containing white flowers. Above the flowers on the wall, is a wooden hanging inside which stands a small biblical figure.

Display label

The Queen was in the Parlour, Eating Bread and Honey exhibited 1860 Valentine Cameron Prinsep 1838-1904 Oil on panel This was Prinsep’s first exhibited painting. At this stage in his career he was heavily influenced by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882), but Prinsep medievalised more literally than his mentor. The young queen, from the nursery rhyme Sing a Song of Sixpence, holds her head at an awkward angle, as if she is an illustration in a manuscript. Other details, such as the clawed dragons that form the cupboard hinge, lend an eccentric touch. The stained-glass colours complete the Pre-Raphaelite medieval effect. Purchased 1938.487