Artist who created modern image of The Queen to be celebrated in London exhibition in Jubilee year

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Written for Royal Central by Sydney Zatz

Mary Gillick, who modelled The Queen’s head for coins in 1953, will take centre stage in a unique display at the British Museum this summer.

In-room 3 of the Asahi Shimbun Displays, the exhibition will feature the life and work of sculptor Mary Gillick (1881-1965), who enjoyed a burst of fame in her seventies when she was invited to model The Queen’s head for UK coinage. Gillick’s portraits of The Queen would continue to appear on the coinage until decimalisation. The picture itself was worked on for several months from March to October 1952, with one sitting and close supervision by the Duke of Edinburgh. A cameo of Gillick’s royal portrait has been used on British commemorative stamps since 1966. Today, the original image still appears on the Maundy money given out by The Queen each Easter.

In celebration of Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee, the exhibit will follow Gillick’s career from her training at the Royal College of Art, where she discovered Renaissance medals, through her skill-building in medallic art, to her 1953 royal success and beyond. Highlighted in the exhibit will be items presented to the British Museum by the artist’s family in 2005. Those items include medals created by Gillick from the 1910s to the 1950s, punches, plaster models and a set of large-scale plaster models of her portrait of The Queen.

Gillick was appointed OBE in the 1953 Coronation Honours.

The exhibit is scheduled to open on 2nd June and run until 31st July. Those wishing to visit are able to pre-book online. Standard admission is free, although a donation is recommended.

About Post Author

Lydia Starbuck

Lydia Starbuck is Jubilee and Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton who is a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. Her latest book, A History of British Royal Jubilees, is out now. Her new book, The Mysterious Death of Katherine Parr, will be published in March 2024. June is an award winning reporter, producer and editor. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.