The Telegraph
Wednesday , September 12 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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CIMA Gallary

A closer look at Victoria

The upper-floor gallery of the Queen’s Hall of Victoria Memorial Hall under its large dome that commands the best view of the 12 lunette frescoes under it was opened on Tuesday morning by governor M.K. Narayanan.

At a brief ceremony the governor said while the mausoleum represented an era gone by, it must also keep abreast of the times.

During one of his visits he had noticed that this particular balustraded gallery, closed in 1997, and some windows were shut. Being the chairman of the board of trustees of the memorial, he announced that all closed doors and windows will be opened so that visitors are able to enjoy themselves. He lay stress on streamlining documentation and improving infrastructure so that it becomes a leading museum.

The 12 lunette frescoes by Frank O Salisbury (1874-1962), an English Methodist artist, who specialised in historical and ceremonial occasions, represent important events in the life of Queen Victoria at the apogee of the Empire. These are painted with oils on canvases and glow with gold powder. The series begins with Queen Victoria’s call to the throne on June 20, 1837, and ends with her lying in state in January 1901.

In between are scenes of her Coronation in Westminster Abbey, her marriage in 1840, the proclamation of Her Majesty as Empress of India on January 1, 1877, and her “apotheosis” in full regalia. In the sixth lunette is an allegory of the Empire and represents “Britannia” with the British Lion and the Bengal Tiger at her feet with Indian soldiers on both sides.

This gallery has been restored recently but some of the paintings, which are in a stable condition, need to be touched up. The memorial, meant to be the “National Gallery and Valhalla for the Empire” was opened in 1921 by Edward VII. The canvases may be restored in winter. Bronze busts of Queen Alexandra, Edward VII, William Wilson Hunter remembered for the Imperial Gazetteer, and Florence Nightingale have been installed here.