Wednesday, February 1

How artists portrayed Queen Elizabeth II by means of her reign


Written by Nick Glass, CNN

It was a kind of photogenic if traditionally insignificant moments when one (bona fide) icon fleetingly met one other. Queen Elizabeth II met Marilyn Monroe at a London movie premiere in 1956. The ladies most likely had treasured little in widespread apart from their age (each had been then 30), world fame and glamour. A cameraman recorded the second for posterity and, as luck would have it, Andy Warhol went on to make silkscreen prints of each ladies.
Warhol’s silkscreen prints of Marilyn are among the many first he ever printed, executed within the months instantly after her demise in 1962. His silkscreen prints of the Queen, nonetheless, are amongst his final and are much less well-known. They had been produced in 1985, as a part of his “Reigning Queens” sequence, simply two years earlier than his personal demise.

With the Queen’s silkscreen, Warhol was — as all the time — enjoying with the concept of movie star and dissecting the connection between topic and public persona. The picture is predicated on an official photographic portrait taken in 1975, shortly earlier than her forty ninth birthday. The Queen, sporting a tiara, is blue-eyed, regal and good-looking, but additionally outlined and abstracted in blocks of colour.

The picture is synthetic, seductive and memorable. The prints — a few of which had been sprinkled with diamond mud, and had been issued in several colours in units of 4 — got here in a restricted version of 40. Better late than by no means, the Royal Collection Trust finally acquired a set for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012.
Photographs of Queen Elizabeth, taken by Dorothy Wilding in 1952, on display as part of 2012's "The Queen: Portraits of a Monach" exhibition at Windsor Castle.

Photographs of Queen Elizabeth, taken by Dorothy Wilding in 1952, on show as a part of 2012’s “The Queen: Portraits of a Monach” exhibition at Windsor Castle. Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Images by way of Getty Images

In making display screen prints of her, Warhol bequeathed us a picture for artwork historical past and — it might be argued — of everlasting regal glamour. As with Marilyn, we’re left with Elizabeth as a Warhol icon. Just as Henry VIII was immortalized (large, menacing, thick-necked, pasty-faced and piggy-eyed) by his court docket painter, Hans Holbein the Younger, may this show to be a defining picture of Elizabeth II half a millennium therefore? Warhol evidently felt a star kinship together with his topic, as soon as remarking that he needed to be “as well-known because the Queen of England.”

As the British historian David Cannadine as soon as famous, the Queen was “most likely probably the most visually depicted and represented particular person ever to have existed throughout your entire span of human historical past.” She reigned for thus lengthy that we will solely hazard a guess as to the variety of photos.

Propaganda photos of Mao Zedong (who was additionally a Warhol topic between 1972 and 1973) had been a lot disseminated throughout his lifetime, however he was all the time made to look the identical: the benevolent founding father of the Chinese nation. With the Queen, nonetheless, the pictures fluctuate in likeness and medium — work, pictures, sculptures and holograms, as nicely that famously irreverent report cowl for the Sex Pistols’ 1977 single “God Save the Queen,” the place her eyes and mouth are obliterated by the names of the track and band.
The Queen by no means had a court docket painter as such. The nearest candidate was most likely the Italian artist Pietro Annigoni, who painted a portrait of her between 1954 and 1955, and once more in 1969. His first portrait of the younger Queen significantly captured the general public creativeness. Framed in opposition to what may move for an Italian Renaissance panorama and wearing Garter robes, she gazes past us dreamily but actually.
"Queen Elizabeth II" by Pietro Annigoni was commissioned by the trustees of the National Portrait Gallery in 1969.

“Queen Elizabeth II” by Pietro Annigoni was commissioned by the trustees of the National Portrait Gallery in 1969. Credit: Oli Scarff/Getty Images

The American photographer, Annie Leibowitz depicted her in an identical approach half a century later, in 2007. Cloaked and solitary, the silver-haired matriarch seems to be straight down the digicam’s lens. By then, she’d obtained used to all of it, having been endlessly photographed. She’d additionally been delivering Christmas messages on television since 1957.
During her reign, formal painted portraiture was largely outmoded by images. And on the outset, artifice dominated. The society photographer Dorothy Wilding, who took the accession pictures in 1952, centered on Elizabeth’s youth and wonder, and had some prints hand-colored. Fashion photographer Cecil Beaton, who took the Coronation photos in 1953 (and was virtually court docket photographer in all however identify), went additional nonetheless. He promoted a fairytale imaginative and prescient, choosing theatrical backgrounds and a few even handed retouching.

Later British photographers — notably Antony Armstrong-Jones, the Earl of Snowdon and the Queen’s former brother-in-law; and Patrick Lichfield, one among her cousins and the Earl of Lichfield — went for informality and naturalism, and we obtained to know her slightly higher within the course of. We had been provided glimpses of the Queen and her household in home conditions, at play in addition to at work. Television crews started to be given uncommon entry for documentaries.

Society photographer Cecil Beaton, who took this photo of Queen Elizabeth with her maids of honor on her coronation day in 1953, captured many of the late monarch's most significant occasions.

Society photographer Cecil Beaton, who took this picture of Queen Elizabeth together with her maids of honor on her coronation day in 1953, captured lots of the late monarch’s most vital events. Credit: Print Collector/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

But maybe the true revolution in our notion of the Queen got here from members of the press — and their telephoto lenses. They equipped among the off-guard, extra intimate walkabout moments. We obtained to see her reacting in shock to the Windsor Castle fireplace in 1992, solemnly and quietly inspecting the ocean of floral tributes to Princess Diana outdoors the gates of Buckingham Palace in 1997, and shedding a tear at her sister’s funeral in 2002. These photos made her appear extra human and sympathetic.

Two of the nice (and most commercially profitable) artists of the twentieth century each tackled portraits of the Queen however in very other ways. In 1967, Gerhard Richter produced an oil painting based mostly on a broadcast {photograph}. (The 12 months earlier than, he had captured her in a lithograph.)
An observer takes a closer look at Gerhard Richter's 1967 painting of the Queen.

An observer takes a better take a look at Gerhard Richter’s 1967 portray of the Queen. Credit: Rune Hellestad/Corbis by way of Getty Images

As was the German artist’s approach, his picture was faintly blurred, the colours and her options exaggerated. The Queen seems to be unreal, if not surreal. She’s nonetheless recognizable however one way or the other creepily not herself; she seems uncomfortable, as if suppressing a nervous giggle. It’s unclear why Richter painted her like this — he by no means provided an evidence.

In 2000, Lucian Freud started portray the Queen. It wasn’t a fee in a proper sense. The Queen’s former personal secretary (and good friend of Freud’s) Robert Fellowes, had pursued the concept for some years. It took a lot negotiation, however across the time of Fellowes’ retirement in early 1999, Freud finally agreed to do a portrait.

The sittings had been unfold over many months, between May 2000 and December 2001. When they started, the artist was 77; the Queen was 74. The end result, painted in heavy impasto, was tiny (simply 9 by 6 inches) and predictably controversial. Freud’s painterly forensic eye was unflinching.

Lucien Freud's painting of the Queen seemed the antithesis of earlier, romanticized depictions of the Queen.

Lucien Freud’s portray of the Queen appeared the antithesis of earlier, romanticized depictions of the Queen. Credit: Sion Touhig/Getty Images

Freud had requested she put on the diadem crown, as seen in a few of Wilding’s pictures. The crown is worn at a slight angle. She is pensive, slightly downcast, slightly weary maybe. She has seen and been by means of loads. The portray was — as many newspapers identified — unflattering, the antithesis of Annigoni’s dreamy Fifties portrait. Freud made a present of the portray to the Royal Collection. The Queen by no means publicly commented on it.

Would it have been to Prince Philip’s style? Probably not. As an beginner painter himself, he knew exactly what he preferred. His personal assortment features a portray of the Queen on horseback on the Trooping the Color ceremony. It was painted by his good friend, the post-impressionist English artist and royal favourite Edward Seago. In Grenadier Guards uniform (white feathered hat and crimson coat), the Queen regarded merely and recognizably magnificent.

Top picture: A print of Queen Elizabeth by Andy Warhol is adjusted by an worker of Bonhams Auctioneers.


2022-09-10 09:10:44

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