M 2003.185: HRH The Princess Elizabeth: (21st Apr 1926 -)
The original modelling of this portrait was begun in November 1932 when the Princess Elizabeth was six and a half and was commissioned by her parents the Duke and Duchess of York. Elizabeth’s father Albert was the second son of the King George V and thus the young Elizabeth was fourth in line to the throne. Her mother was Elizabeth Bowes Lyons the youngest daughter of the 14th Earl of Strathmore, whose family home was Glamis Castle in Angus. They had married in 1923. On the abdication of Albert’s oldest brother David in December 1936, the Duke and Duchess of York would become the King and Queen.
The intention for this piece was that Elizabeth be modelled before she “left the child look behind”. Although this was to be primarily a family piece the Princess was becoming the centre of increasing public attention and was attending more semi official events. Lamb’s letters from the time show the daily routine as he turned up at the royal house at 145 Piccadilly. He would watch Princess Elizabeth play, often with modelling materials and specially created cups and saucers, cakes, scones and fruit and they then talked and played games until she went away to lunch. Lamb would then transfer to another room and start modelling the piece in clay provided from the Doulton Pottery. Once it was agreed that the piece was acceptable Lamb would create a plaster or “Stucco” copy that could be transferred to Edinburgh to be cast in Bronze. Once Lamb had “finished” the bronze he then made the base and finished the piece ready for display.
The first piece was transferred to the Royal family in May 1933 and another was subsequently prepared for Lamb himself to retain – this is the one now on display in the Lamb Studio together with portraits of her sister and mother. The piece attracted a great deal of attention on its first public display at the Royal Academy London (No 1719) in the spring of 1933 where it was described as having “real charm”. Later that year it was exhibited at the Glasgow Institute (No 763). It was on display at the William Lamb Memorial Exhibition in 1951 (No 42), a t the Lamb and Baird Memorial Exhibition in 1968 (No 48), was exhibited at Aberdeen in 1976 (No149) and was finally exhibited at the RSA in 1982 (No24). The copy in the Royal Collection can be seen in the Drawing Room at Clarence House, the home of HRH Prince Charles, together with that of her sister.
M2003.186: HRH The Princess Margaret Rose (21 Aug 1930 – 9 Feb 2002)
Margaret Rose was the second daughter of the Duke and Duchess of York and at the time of modelling was only twenty eight months, but fifth in line to the throne. At this age she was increasingly coming to the attention of the press and public, largely as the younger companion of her sister. Her public reputation of “not talking a great deal” proved to be untrue as she settled to lively times when William Lamb was in the house. Lamb remarked early on that Margaret was very like her father in looks.
The original modelling of this piece began in December 1932 after the first phase of the project to sculpt her sister Elizabeth was reaching completion. Margaret watched Lamb working with her sister and was “charmed” to have her nose measured as a start of the project. She was reportedly a very lively “sitter” and Lamb’s target was to reproduce that “face of mischief”. In the second week she was ill and had to stay in the nursery but Lamb was eventually allowed to visit the Princess there and play games and absorb her face as far as possible. Lamb completed the plaster copy of the piece over Christmas/new Year while the family was away. This piece was then transferred to Edinburgh for casting in Bronze. Lamb would then have created a suitable base for this piece. It was intended that a copy of Margaret Rose be displayed at the Royal Scottish Academy (together with her mother’s portrait) in April 1933 (No 52).
In May the finished piece arrived with the Royal family in London and it is now on display in the Drawing Room of Clarence House, the current home of HRH Prince Charles. But while Margaret Rose was on display at the RSA in 1933 it was noticed by Professor Dr Wilkie of Edinburgh University who approached Lamb about a possible copy of the piece for The Princess Margaret Rose Hospital for Crippled Children in Edinburgh that was being built and the Duchess agreed that a copy of the portrait be placed on permanent display there. As a family piece it does not seem to have been widely exhibited elsewhere until relatively recently.
It was shown at the William Lamb Memorial exhibition in 1951 (No 43), it was exhibited again in Montrose in 1977 during an exhibition to launch the Lamb Studio as a permanent Museum and was re-exhibited at the RSA in 1982 (No 26). A later bronze casting is on permanent display in the William Lamb Studio and the plaster original is the Angus Council Stores.
M2003.178: HRH The Duchess of York (4 Aug 1900 – 30 Mar 2002)
Elizabeth Bowes Lyons was the youngest daughter of the 14th Earl of Strathmore whose family estate is at Glamis Castle in Angus. When she married Albert, second son of King George V in 1925 she became the Duchess of York. They had two daughters Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) and Margaret Rose, later the Countess of Snowdon. When Edward VIII abdicated in December 1936 Elizabeth became Queen as her husband succeeded to the throne as King George VI.
Her portrait was commissioned from William Lamb during the working on the sculpture of her daughter Elizabeth in early December 1932. An experimental piece was to be attempted on the understanding that if it was unsuitable it would be broken up. However in January 1933 after the family returned from Sandringham to 145 Piccadilly the family home in London Lamb started work on a formal bust of the Duchess. This piece was successful and it was carried through to completion. It was transferred to Edinburgh to be bronzed with the portraits of her daughters and when completed was sent for exhibition at the Royal Scottish Academy (No 50) in Edinburgh in April 1933. Lamb was permitted to create a second copy for his own use and display - and this is on display in the Lamb Studio. The portrait was re-exhibited at the RSA in 1982 (No 25) and again at a RSA exhibition in 1991 – Sculpture and Scotland 1540- 1990).