With the celebration of the Queen’s 60th Anniversary of her coronation this week, there is an opportunity to see some amazing portraits circulating. One that caught my attention is Study for the portrait ‘Her Majesty in Robes of the British Empire’ by Pietro Annigoni in 1969.
The study, done in oil distemper and pastel and measuring more than life-size at about 16 x 24″, was commissioned by the Trustees of the National Portrait Gallery. The Queen is wearing the red cloak of the British Empire.
Fifteen years earlier, Annigoni had painted the young Queen for the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers, in a romantic rendering of her wrapped in the dark blue cloak of the Order of the Garter.
What I love about the study for the second portrait in red, is how the artist seems to have captured her strength and…well… her majesty so effortlessly. His concentration in the sketch is totally on her face.
For the 1969 portrait Annigoni was granted 18 sitting over a period of eight months. The result of his first 8 sittings was this study in oil and pastel of the head and shoulders of Her Majesty against a dark night sky.
The final portrait can be seen at the National Portrait Gallery in London.