by Anita Mae Draper
This is Part 3 of my series on sleighs:
- Part 1 is about 19th century adult and Santa sleighs.
- Part 2 is about 19th centurychildren's sleighs.
For Part 3, I wanted to showcase some of the more expensive sleighs in history. Because I'm a Canadian, let's start with Queen Victoria who lived from 1819-1901, ruling the British Commonwealth for much of that time.
This is a pencil drawing showing a sleigh built by Hooper & Co for Queen Victoria c1850-1870 under the personal supervision of the Albert, Prince Consort.
This painting is in the Royal Collection and shows Queen Victoria and the children being driven by Prince Albert just as envisioned in the above drawing.
The actual red and gold sleigh, which is lined with red velvet, is shown here at a seasonal exhibit at Windsor Castle:
An extract from Queen Victoria’s journal of February 12th, 1855 records a winter outing in the sleigh with Princess Clementine of Orleans:
"Another sharp frost and a fine day – Albert drove Clem and me out in the sledge…with the exception of 2 or 3 little places, we went beautifully and as smoothly as though we were on ice. The sun bright & the sky so blue. We were out for an hour!"
It doesn't look that big above with the huge castle tree, but look at it here in perspective:
I think those 'crown' ornaments are cute for a castle tree.
King Ludwig of Bavaria (1845-1886) spent most of his life building castles. His Schloss Neuschwanstein Castle is famous the world over as the inspiration for the Disney's iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle. Although Ludwig never married and had no children, he loved beautiful, romantic things.
The above is a child's sleigh preserved in one of his many castles.
In the Kremlin in Moscow, we find the oldest of the royal Russian carriages. This one is from the 18th century and was one of many to carry the royal court from city to city. For example, when Catherine the Great (1729-1796) made her trip from St. Petersburg to Moscow for her coronation, she did it in 13 days in a sleigh similar to this.
According to the book, Russian Imperial Style, by Laura Cerwinske, Catherine’s sleigh was a "palace on runners! It contained a salon, library and bedroom all warmed by porcelain stoves. It had six windows and was wide enough for 8 people to pass abreast! Behind her sleigh was a procession of 19,000 horses and 14 large sleighs and 184 smaller ones carrying the royal court."
St. Petersburg is the home of The Hermitage, the legacy of Catherine the Great's love of art. One of the pieces she collected for her gallery is this carved sleigh. It's a gilded treasure of St. George slaying the dragon.
Here's another of Catherine the Great's sleighs which is said to have extraordinary embroidery:
Finally, back in March 2009, Norway's Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit visited the Sami region of Finnmark. They bundled up in traditional costume to deal with the -13F/-25C temperatures.
One thing I learned from researching these sleighs and sledges was the inordinate amount of treasures to see. Castles and museums with carriages, sleighs all gilded and sitting there. It boggles my mind.
Have you ever visited a foreign museum? Which one and why? Which one would you like to visit if you had a chance?