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National Portrait Gallery Announces The Queen: Art and Image

The National Portrait Gallery has announced A touring exhibition, The Queen: Art and Image to mark The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012. This innovative touring exhibition brings together 60 of the most remarkable and resonant images of Elizabeth II spanning the 60 years of her reign – some on public display for the first time. The Queen: Art and Image will tour to British venues before being shown in London, opening in Edinburgh in June, Belfast in October and Cardiff and London in 2012.

From Beaton and Leibovitz to Annigoni and Warhol, The Queen: Art and Image will be the most wide-ranging exhibition of images in different media devoted to a single royal sitter. Formal painted portraits, official photographs, media pictures, and powerful responses by contemporary artists will be shown in an exhibition which explores both traditional representations and works which extend the visual language of royal portraiture.

Documenting the changing nature of representations of the Monarch, the exhibition will show how images serve as a lens through which to view shifting perceptions of royalty. This perspective reflects changes in the social scene and historical context, and the exhibition highlights important developments and events: from The Queen’s relationship with the press and the miner’s strike, to the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, and the advent of new technology. This textured view of the period is supplemented by archival material – from newspapers to film footage, postage stamps to consumer ephemera.

Among the highlights from the works from life are Annigoni’s hugely popular life-size 1969 commission for the National Portrait Gallery, Lucian Freud’s 2000-01 portrait from the Royal Collection and Justin Mortimer’s painting where The Queen’s head floats away from her body against a huge background of flat vibrant yellow. Among the exhibited photographers for whom The Queen sat are Annie Leibovitz, Dorothy Wilding and Cecil Beaton – including his iconic Westminster Abbey Coronation image – and Chris Levine’s highly unusual photograph from 2004 of The Queen with her eyes closed.

The Queen: Art and Image will show a significant selection of unofficial portraits of the British monarch from major 20th century artists including those of Gilbert and George, Andy Warhol and Gerhard Richter, as well as less formal portraits by such photographers as Eve Arnold, Patrick Lichfield and Lord Snowdon.

Collectively, the exhibition celebrates and explores the startling range of artistic creativity and media-derived imagery that The Queen has inspired. It also probes the relation of this imagery to a world of changing values during a reign that has engaged the attention of millions.

Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, says: ‘The Queen is the most portrayed person in British history, reflecting her long reign and also the respect and affection which is felt towards her. The Diamond Jubilee is a wonderful celebration and the National Portrait Gallery is very pleased to be sharing this exhibition with our other national partners in Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff.’

James Holloway, Director of Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, says: ‘I am delighted that Scotland will be able to enjoy this remarkable jubilee exhibition, which will be presented in the heart of the capital city of Her Majesty’s Stewart ancestors.’

Jim McGreevy, Director of Collections & Interpretation, National Museums Northern Ireland, said: ‘We are pleased to participate in this UK wide tour of The Queen: Art and Image. This novel exhibition offers our visitors an opportunity to see the work of world-renowned artists and photographers such as Andy Warhol, Gerhard Richter, Annie Leibovitz and Lord Snowden for the first time at the Ulster Museum. Across six decades the works on display chart the changing portrayal of a Monarch whose image has, of course, had such global and local significance.’

David Anderson, Director General of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, says: ‘Amgueddfa Cymru is pleased to be working in collaboration with the UK’s other national museums. This is an example of how effective partnerships between museums and galleries can make works by such influential artists such as Andy Warhol and Gerhard Richter, accessible to visitors across the country.’

John Griffith-Jones, Senior Partner and Chairman of KPMG in the UK, says: ‘KPMG is pleased to support what will be a fascinating visual chronology of The Queen’s reign. With such a wide range of imagery and artistic styles, I am sure the exhibition will be of huge interest to many people, and will form a significant part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.’

Douglas Connell, Joint Senior Partner of Turcan Connell, says: ‘As we move towards this historic anniversary of Her Majesty’s accession, Turcan Connell is delighted that this wonderful exhibition opens at the National Galleries of Scotland and that we in Scotland will have the first chance to view this very special range of images.’

The exhibition is curated by Paul Moorhouse, the National Portrait Gallery’s 20th Century Curator. At the National Portrait Gallery he has curated the major retrospectives: Gerhard Richter Portraits and Pop Art Portraits. As part of the Gallery’s on-going Interventions series of displays he has curated John Gibbons: Portraits, Frank Auerbach: Four Portraits of Catherine Lampert, Andy Warhol: 10 Portraits of Jews of the 20th Century and Anthony Caro: Portraits.

Image: Queen Elizabeth II by Dorothy Wilding (Hand-coloured by Beatrice Johnson), 1952. © William Hustler and Georgina Hustler/ National Portrait Gallery, London.


National Gallery Complex, Edinburgh 25 June–18 September 2011
Sponsored by Turcan Connell
Admission £7. Concessions £5:
Tickets available online from 1 June 2011 at

Ulster Museum, Belfast 14 October 2011–15 January 2012
Admission Free
For more information please go to
National Museum Cardiff 4 February – 29 April 2012
Admission Free
For more information please go to

National Portrait Gallery, London 17 May – 21 October 2012
Sponsored by KPMG
Admission Charge to be confirmed
For more information please go to

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