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February 26, 2022

The Only Known Color Photograph of Britain’s King Edward VII

Here is the only known color photograph of Britain’s King Edward VII. Found in April 2009 in a cupboard in Exbury, this informal portrait, which shows the monarch dressed in a kilt and full highland costume, was taken a century earlier in September 1909.

The photographer was Lionel de Rothschild, a banker and Conservative MP, who invited the king to his grouse hunt at Tulchan in Strathspey some 15 miles from the royal estate at Balmoral. The portrait is thought to be one of the last pictures of the king, who died eight months later.

Rothschild was not only an amateur photographer, but also an avid experimenter and inventor who perfected the new process for taking images. The photo above, for instance, is an example of an autochrome, the first color photographic method to be commercially viable. Among the images attributed to Lionel in the Rothschild Archives are 700 non-royal images from the early 1900s. These photos show the Edwardian world in a new light, in a soft and subtle color.


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