How artists painted during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II

written by Nick Glass, CNN

One (well-meaning) icon briefly meeting another icon was one of those photogenic, if not historically significant, moments. Queen Elizabeth II met Marilyn Monroe At the film premiere in London in 1956. The two women probably had precious little in common, other than their age (they were both in their 30s at the time), world fame, and charm. A photographer documented the moment for posterity, and as luck would have it Andy Warhol created silkscreen prints of both women.
Warhol’s silkscreen print of Marilyn, made in the months immediately following her death in 1962, was one of his first publications. queen silkscreen printHowever, it is one of his last works and is less well known. They were produced in 1985 as part of his “Reigning Queens” series, just two years before his own death.

In The Queen’s silkscreen, Warhol – as usual – played with the idea of ​​a celebrity, analyzing the relationship between subject matter and public persona. This image is based on an official photo portrait of her taken in 1975, just before her 49th birthday. The tiara-wearing queen is blue-eyed, regal and handsome, but outlined and abstracted with blocks of color.

The images are artificial, captivating and striking. Some of the prints were encrusted with diamond dust, and although they were issued in sets of four in various colors, they were sold in a limited edition of 40. finally got a set For the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

Dorothy Wilding’s 1952 photograph of Queen Elizabeth was exhibited as part of The Queen: Portraits of a Monach exhibition at Windsor Castle in 2012. credit: Steve Parsons/PA Image via Getty Images

By making her screen prints, Warhol bequeathed to us an image of art history. Like Marilyn, Elizabeth remains a Warhol the same way Henry VIII was immortalized By his court painter Hans Holbein the Younger (massive, menacing, thick-necked, pasty-faced, piggy-backed eyes), this is Elizabeth II’s portrait 500 years later. Will it prove to be the definitive image? Warhol once said, “I want to be as famous as the Queen of England,” and clearly felt an affinity for his subjects and celebrities.

As British historian David Cannadine once noted, the Queen was “perhaps the most visually depicted and represented individual to have existed throughout human history”. Since it reigned, we can only guess about the number of images.

Propaganda images of Mao Zedong (who was also Warhol’s subject from 1972 to 1973) were widely circulated during his lifetime, but he was always made to look the same. He is the benevolent founding father of the Chinese nation. But in the case of the Queen, the images are paintings, photographs, sculptures, hologramalso the famously irreverent record cover of the Sex Pistols’ 1977 single “God Save the Queen,” with her eyes and mouth obliterated by the song and the band’s name.
The Queen had no such court painter.The closest candidate was probably an Italian artist Pietro AnigoniHe painted her portrait in 1954-55 and again in 1969. His first portraits of young queens especially captured the public imagination. Dressed in her garter robes, she stares dreamily, but surely, beyond us, in contrast to the Italian Renaissance landscape.
"Queen Elizabeth II" This work by Pietro Annigoni was commissioned by the Trustees of the National Portrait Gallery in 1969.

Pietro Annigoni’s “Queen Elizabeth II” was commissioned by the Trustees of the National Portrait Gallery in 1969. credit: Oliscarf/Getty Images

american photographer, Annie Leibowitz painted her Half a century later, in 2007, in a similar fashion.By then she had been photographed endlessly, so she was used to it all, and so was she Broadcast Christmas messages on TV Since 1957.
During her reign, formal portraiture was replaced by photography. And at first, trickery photographer Dorothy Wildingtook the award-winning photograph in 1952 and hand-coloured several prints, highlighting Elizabeth’s youth and photographer Cecil BeatonPhotographing the coronation in 1953 (who was practically a court photographer except in name) went even further. He promoted a fairytale vision, opting for a theatrical backdrop and some judicious retouching.

Later British photographers – especially Antony Armstrong-Jones, Earl of Snowdon, former brother-in-law of the Queen. And her cousin, Patrick Litchfield, Earl of Litchfield, pursued informality and naturalism, getting to know her a little better in the process. I was able to catch a glimpse of at housework, play and work. Television crews began to be given unusual access to documentaries.

Social photographer Cecil Beaton took this photo of Queen Elizabeth and her ladies-in-waiting on her coronation day in 1953. This photo captures many of the late monarch's most significant occasions.

Social photographer Cecil Beaton took this photo of Queen Elizabeth and her ladies-in-waiting on her coronation day in 1953. This photo captures many of the late monarch’s most significant occasions. credit: Print Collector/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

But it may have been the press and their telephoto lenses that truly revolutionized our perception of the Queen. They provided some of the more off-guard, more intimate walkabout moments, from the shock of the 1992 Windsor Castle fire to the 1997 tribute to Princess Diana displayed outside the gates of Buckingham Palace. I was able to solemnly and quietly examine the wreaths and see her weeping at her sister’s funeral in 2002. She seemed more human and sympathetic.

Two of the 20th century’s greatest (and most commercially successful) artists approached portraits of queens, but in very different ways. Produced by Gerhard Richter in 1967. oil Based on published photos. (The year before last he caught her lithograph.)
Observers take a closer look at Gerhard Richter's 1967 Queen painting.

Observers take a closer look at Gerhard Richter’s 1967 Queen painting. credit: Rune Hellestad/Corbis via Getty Images

Similar to the German artist’s practice, his image was faintly blurred, exaggerating colors and her features. The Queen looks unreal, if not unreal. She’s still recognizable, but somehow she’s eerily not who she is. She looks uncomfortable, as if suppressing her strained laughter. It is unclear why Richter painted her this way. he never explained.

In 2000, Lucien Freud began painting the Queen. It was not a commission in the formal sense. Robert Fellowes, the Queen’s former personal secretary (and Freud’s friend), had been pursuing the idea for several years. It took a lot of negotiation, but around the time of Fellows’ retirement in early 1999, Freud finally agreed to do portraits.

The sitting took place over many months from May 2000 to December 2001. The Queen was 74 years old. As a result, she was painted in heavy impasto, small (only 9 by 6 inches), and predictably controversial. Freud’s pictorial forensic eye did not flinch.

Lucien Freud's paintings of the queen seemed like the antithesis of earlier depictions of romantic queens.

Lucien Freud’s paintings of the queen seemed like the antithesis of earlier depictions of romantic queens. credit: Shion Toohig/Getty Images

Freud required her to wear a crown, as seen in some of Wilding’s photographs, which is worn at a slight angle. She is pensive, a little depressed and maybe a little tired. She has seen and experienced many things. The painting, as many newspapers noted, was an unflattering contrast to Annigoni’s dreamy 1950s portraits of her. Freud donated this painting to the Royal Collection. The Queen has never publicly commented on it.

Was it Prince Philip’s taste? Probably not. As an amateur painter, he knew exactly what he liked. His private collection includes a painting of the Queen on horseback at the Trooping the Color ceremony. It was painted by his friend, British Post-Impressionist artist and royal favorite Edward Seago. Dressed in her Grenadier Guard uniform (white feathered hat and red coat), the Queen looked simply and recognizably stunning.

Above: An Andy Warhol print of Queen Elizabeth being adjusted by Bonhams Auctions employees.


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