Top: ‘Queen Elizabeth II’, Dorothy Wilding (1952). Hand-coloured by Beatrice Johnson.
This isn’t the first time that it’s nearly been off with the Queen’s head. When Winston Churchill died, David Gentleman was charged with designing a commemorative stamp (see our ‘Reputations’ interview with Gentleman in Eye 78). His original version (below, left) omitted Elizabeth II entirely. However the Stamp Advisory Committee insisted on retaining her portrait (not yet Hedgecoe’s version), and adding a white line to symbolise the separation between royal and commoner (below, right).
Over the years, Her Majesty has been subject to all kinds of portraiture, from Justin Mortimer’s disembodied head on a yellow background (1998, above) to Chris Levine’s remarkable photograph of the Queen with her eyes closed, ‘Lightness of Being’ (2007, below; see ‘I’ve seen that face before’ for Levine’s Grace Jones exhibition). To celebrate the Diamond Jubilee, The National Portrait Gallery is organising ‘The Queen: Art and Image’, a touring exhibition to celebrate the most remarkable and resonant images of her 60-year reign. Alongside official portraits of the Queen, the exhibition brings together unofficial portraits by artists such as Gilbert and George, Andy Warhol and Gerhard Richter – far rarer sights than Hedgecoe’s ubiquitous Royal image.
Above: ‘Queen Elizabeth II’, Pietro Annigoni (1969).
Below: ‘Queen Elizabeth II’, Eve Arnold (1968).
Above: ‘Queen Elizabeth II’, Dorothy Wilding (1952).
The Queen: Art and Image
25 June > 18 September 2011
National Gallery Complex, Edinburgh
14 October 2011 > 15 January 2012
Ulster Museum, Belfast
4 February > 29 April 2012
National Museum, Cardiff
17 May > 21 October 2012
National Portrait Gallery, London
Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It’s available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop. For a taste of no. 78, see Eye before you buy on Issuu.