Queen Elizabeth II, from Reigning Queens 1985Reigning Queens Andy Warhol - Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom
Queen Elizabeth II, from Reigning Queens 1985
Colour Screen print (Red)
100 x 80cm
HC 3/3 aside from the edition of 40
Catalogue Raisonné: Feldman & Schellmann. II.335
Signed, Stamped and numbered.
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts
Private Collection, Australia
private Collection London.
Andy Warhol: Reigning Queens
In respectful tribute to Queen Elizabeth, Tanya Baxter Contemporary is pleased to hold an exhibition of Reigning Queens, a series of iconic portraits of her Majesty by renowned Pop artist Andy Warhol (1928-1987).
Created in 1985, Reigning Queens depicted four ruling monarchs: Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, Queen Margarethe II of Denmark, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, and Queen Ntombi of Swaziland. Warhol’s portrait of the Queen was issued in two editions: a standard edition comprising forty prints, and a Royal Edition of thirty works, some of which were decorated with “diamond dust”, the sparkling ground glass that the artist added to some of his most glamorous pictures.
Warhol’s portrait of Queen Elizabeth is unique as unlike portraits painted by many other distinguished artists during her reign, she neither commissioned it nor posed for it. Instead, Warhol used the Royal photographer Peter Grugeon’s image of the Queen, taken on the occasion of the Silver Jubilee celebrations in 1977.
Warhol, an artist obsessed by fame, was captivated by the Queen’s global standing and her unequalled status as the most reproduced figure in history. For him, the Queen was his ultimate icon. Not surprisingly, therefore, his portrait celebrates England’s ruler in all her radiant glory. The portraits are rendered in vibrant shades of pink, green, plum and turquoise, while the backdrops feature royal purple and patriotic red.
Warhol understood better than any other artist the cult of celebrity and the allure of an image. Central to his oeuvre were his portraits of screen idols like Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe or pop stars like Elvis Presley who often received quite irreverent treatment. Having gained the permission of the Palace to create a portrait of his ultimate icon, however, Warhol’s respectful portrait of Queen Elizabeth emphasises her grace and elegance, with just a hint of a lively spirit in her expression. It could not seem more poignant now.
Official recognition of the portrait was given when 2012 the Royal Collection purchased four prints from the Royal Edition to mark the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s coronation.