Queen Victoria’s Cranach turns out to be the real thing

Painting monarch bought for Prince Albert, which experts thought was an imitation, goes on display at Windsor Castle

Portrait of a Lady and Her Son by Lucas Cranach the Elder and his workshop, in the King’s Dressing Room, Windsor Castle. Photograph: Todd-White Art Photography/Ben F/Royal Collection Trust

For more than a century art historical experts have labelled a painting Queen Victoria bought as a Christmas present for Prince Albert a 19th-century fake.

But a new generation of art historians has discovered they were wrong. Victoria and her advisers were correct when they bought the painting in 1840. It is a genuine work by the German master Lucas Cranach the Elder and his workshop.

On Tuesday, the gloriously restored work went on public display at Windsor Castle, taking pride of place in the King’s Dressing Room alongside other works by Cranach.

Nicola Christie, the head of paintings conservation at the Royal Collection Trust, welcomed the discovery. “It is an absolute thrill. It doesn’t happen very often and it is such a pleasure to know that it has been reattributed.”

The painting Portrait of a Lady and Her Son (c 1510-1540) shows an unidentified consort of a prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire and her son, hand in hand.

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