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.
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
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.
“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
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. 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.
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.
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. 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.