How artists portrayed Queen Elizabeth II during her reign

written by Nick Glass, CNN

It was one of those attractive, if historically insignificant, moments when one (well-meaning) icon met another in passing. Queen Elizabeth II met Marilyn Monroe At the London premiere in 1956. The women probably had little in common except for their age (both were 30 at the time), world fame and splendor. The photographer recorded the moment for posterity, and fortunately, Andy Warhol continued to make silkscreen prints of both women.
Warhol’s silkscreen prints of Marilyn are among the first ever published, and were culled in the months immediately following her death in 1962. Silkscreen prints of the queenHowever, they are among his last and least known. They were produced in 1985, as part of the “Reigning Queens” series, just two years before his death.

Using the queen’s silkscreen, Warhol was – as always – playing with the idea of ​​fame and analyzing the relationship between the subject and the public figure. The photo is based on an official photograph taken in 1975, just before her 49th birthday. The Queen, who wears a crown, is blue-eyed, regal and handsome, but also defined and abstracted in blocks of colour.

The image is artificial, seductive and unforgettable. The prints—some of which were sprinkled with diamond dust, and released in various colors in sets of four—came in a limited edition of 40 copies. Better late than never, Royal Collection Trust I finally got a set On the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee of the Queen in 2012.
Portraits of Queen Elizabeth, taken by Dorothy Wilding in 1952, shown as part of 2012

Portraits of Queen Elizabeth, taken by Dorothy Wilding in 1952, are on display as part of the 2012 “The Queen: Portraits of Monash” exhibition at Windsor Castle. attributed to him: Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images

By making prints of it, Warhol left us an image of art history and—arguably—of eternal royal luster. As with Marilyn, we have left Elizabeth as a Warhol icon. just us Henry VIII is immortalized (Huge, menacing, bushy-necked, innate face and finger-eyes) of his court painter, Hans Holbein the Younger, could this iconic portrait of Elizabeth II be half a thousand years later? Warhol apparently felt the kinship of celebrities with his subject, once remarking that he wanted to be “as famous as the Queen of England”.

As British historian David Cannadine once noted, the queen was “probably the most photographed and visually represented individual throughout the entire period of human history.” She ruled for so long that we can only risk guessing the number of photos.

Propaganda portraits of Mao Zedong (also a subject of Warhol between 1972 and 1973) were published a lot during his lifetime, but he always looked the same: the founding father of the Chinese nation. With the queen, the images differ in similarity and medium – paintings, photographs, sculptures and hologramPlus, the famous record cover of the 1977 Sex Pistols song “God Save the Queen,” in which her eyes and mouth are obliterated with the song and band names.
The Queen did not have a court painter as such. Perhaps the closest candidate is the Italian artist Pietro Anegoni, who painted a portrait of her between 1954 and 1955, and again in 1969. His first portrait of the young queen particularly captured the public’s imagination. Surrounded by what would pass by the scenery of the Italian Renaissance and dressed in garter robes, you look beyond us with a dream but sure.

“Queen Elizabeth II” was commissioned to Pietro Anegoni by the curators of the National Portrait Gallery in 1969. attributed to him: Olly Scarf / Getty Images

american photographer, Photographed by Annie Leibovitz In a similar fashion half a century later, in 2007. Disguised and solitary, the silver-haired mother looks directly under the camera lens. By that time, she had gotten used to everything, having been photographed endlessly. It was Delivery of Christmas messages on TV Since 1957.
During her reign, photography replaced the official formal painting. And at first the trick ruled. Assembly Photographer Dorothy Wilding, whose accession photos were taken in 1952, focused on Elizabeth’s youth and beauty, and had some hand-coloured prints. fashion photographer Cecil Beaton, who took the coronation photos in 1953 (and was practically the court photographer in all but name), went further. He promoted a fictional vision, choosing theatrical backgrounds and some wise redaction.

subsequent British paparazzi – notably Anthony Armstrong-Jones, Earl of Snowdon and former son-in-law of the Queen; And Patrick Lichfield, one of her cousins ​​and Earl Lichfield – they went casual and natural, and we got to know her a little better in the process. Glimpses of the Queen and her family were given in domestic situations, at play as well as at work. Television crews began to gain extraordinary access to documentaries.

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

Society photographer Cecil Beaton, who took this picture of Queen Elizabeth with the maids of honor on her coronation day in 1953, captured many of the late Queen’s most important occasions. attributed to him: Print Collector/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

But perhaps the real revolution in our perception of the Queen came from members of the press – and their telephoto lenses. They provided some surprising and most intimate moments of wandering. We saw her react shockingly to the Windsor Castle fire in 1992, as she quietly inspected a sea of ​​flowers for Princess Diana outside the gates of Buckingham Palace in 1997, and shed a tear at her sister’s funeral in 2002. These photos made her seem all the more human and sympathetic.

Two of the greatest (and most commercially successful) artists of the 20th century approached the Queen’s portraits but in very different ways. In 1967, Gerhard Richter produced Canvas Based on a published photo. (The previous year, 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 closer look at Gerhard Richter’s 1967 painting of the Queen. attributed to him: Ron Hellstad/Corbis via Getty Images

As was the manner of the German artist, his portrait was faintly blurred, its colors and features exaggerated. The Queen looks unreal, if not surreal. Still recognizable but somehow eerily not herself; She seemed uncomfortable, as if suppressing a nervous laugh. It is unclear why Richter painted it this way – he never gave an explanation.

In 2000, Lucian Freud began painting The Queen. It was not a commission in the official sense. The Queen’s former private secretary (and friend of Freud) Robert Fellowes pursued the idea for several years. It took a lot of negotiation, but around the time Fellowes retired in early 1999, Freud finally agreed to make a picture.

Sessions were spread out over several months, between May 2000 and December 2001. When I started, the artist was 77 years old; The Queen was 74 years old. Painted in heavy colour, the result is small (only 9 x 6 inches) and predictably controversial. Freud’s formal criminal eye was fixed.

Lucian Freud's painting of the queen seemed to be the antithesis of earlier romantic depictions of the queen.

Lucian Freud’s painting of the queen seemed to be the antithesis of earlier romantic depictions of the queen. attributed to him: Sion Twhig / Getty Images

Freud had asked her to wear a diadem, as seen in some of Wilding’s photographs. The crown is worn at a slight angle. She’s pensive, a little sad, maybe a little exhausted. She has seen and experienced a lot. The painting was – as many newspapers pointed out – an unflattering, antithesis of the dreamy Anneguni painting of the 1950s. Freud made a gift of the painting to the royal collection. The Queen has not commented publicly on this.

Was it to Prince Philip’s taste? Mostly not. As an amateur painter, he knew exactly what he liked. His private collection includes a painting of the Queen on horseback at Trooping the Color. It was painted by his friend, English Post-Impressionist artist and royal favorite Edward Segou. The Queen, in her Grenadier Guards uniform (a white hat with feathers and a red coat), looked remarkably simple and elegant.

Top image: Copy of Queen Elizabeth by Andy Warhol edited by a Bonhams Auctioneers employee.

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