Curator Michael Hunter with the painting. Picture by Jennifer Burton.
SHE is portrayed as a repressed and melancholy widow who spent much of her life clad in black.
But this risque painting featuring a bevy of scantily-clad beauties certainly challenges this traditional view of Queen Victoria.
Given to Prince Albert by the Queen for his birthday in 1852, it is a scene of half-naked maidens draped in Indian silk in a Spanish landscape which hung in the queen’s sitting room, opposite the 'his and hers’ desks where they worked side by side each day.
The painting was removed from Osborne House after Queen Victoria’s death and taken to Buckingham Palace.
Last week, the oil on canvas went on public display for the first time, hanging in the original position where Queen Victoria and Prince Albert saw it every day around 160 years ago.
Curator Michael Hunter said the artwork had been a major missing piece from the collection.
He said: "It’s very exciting to see the picture back again after an absence of 100 years.
"It always hung here in Queen Victoria’s lifetime but moved to Buckingham Palace shortly after the queen’s death ."
The stunning painting by German painter Franz Winterhalter depicts Spanish king Roderick, 'last king of the Goths', who can be seen spying through the bushes at the Spanish maid Florinda, shown with her companions preparing to bathe in the grounds of the castle near Toledo where she lives.
Legend has it that he chose Florinda as the object of his love and in revenge Florinda’s father called the Arabs into Spain to invade and conquer.