The State Coach Study I

55| John Leigh-Pemberton (British, 1911-1997)

The State Coach Study I

Auction Expired

Oil on canvas, 20" x 31"

This auction is under proxy bidding.

Auction Expired because there were no bids

$4000 - $6000

John Leigh-Pemberton was a British illustrator who was commissioned in the 1950s to paint the Royal Coaches, housed at the Royal Mews, in the stables of Buckingham Palace.

The Irish State Coach, an enclosed, four-horse-drawn carriage used by the British Royal Family, is the traditional coach in which the British monarch travels from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster for the formal opening of the new legislative session of the UK Parliament. John Hutton & Sons of Dublin, which held a Royal Warrant as coachbuilders to Queen Victoria, built the original Irish State Coach as a speculative venture in 1851. It was exhibited in 1853 at the Great Industrial Exhibition in Dublin. The coach maker was hoping to attract the attention of two distinguished visitors — and when Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert, saw it, they bought it. It went on to become one of Queen Victoria’s favorite carriages, and she used it often after her husband’s death.

In 1911 the coach was sent for refurbishment to the workshops of Barker & Co. of Notting Hill. While there, it was extensively damaged by fire (with only the metal framework left intact). However, Barker & Co. completely reconstructed it to the original design in the space of 19 weeks, in time for it to be used in the coronation procession of George V. The Irish State Coach boasts dark brown body panels decorated with golden scrolls. At the front of the carriage, arching up over the wheels, is a large curved guard, designed to protect the carriage from mud. The carriage’s most distinctive feature is its ornate gilded roof. From a central gold crown on a red cushion, four elaborate scrolling friezes radiate out to each corner; each corner is adorned with a small gold crown. Linking these crowns along the edge of the roof is a delicate frieze: Roses for England alternate with thistles for Scotland, shamrocks for Ireland, and palm trees. The palms represent India and were added to the coach in 1876 when Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India. In 1989 the Royal Mews carriage restorers undertook a complete restoration of the Irish coach, and it was entirely repainted and regilded. Until recently, Queen Elizabeth II traveled in it to the state opening of Parliament each year.


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