On 9 September Queen Elizabeth II becomes the longest reigning British monarch, surpassing the record held by her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria. According to 2014 figures, there have been over 150 portraits of her during her lifetime.
“I wanted to paint The Queen as a woman rather than as The Queen, so I asked her whether we could change her cloak, badge and sash. She was very cooperative, and we agreed on a plain white dress in the end. A member of the Royal Household commented that it was the first time that he had seen the likeness of her father in a portrait, so I felt I had succeeded,” artist David Poole on his painting ‘Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.’
In 1891, 24 artists were displeased with the selection criteria of the Royal Academy for its annual exhibition in London. The decided to form a group, and The Society of Portrait Painters was born. Their goal was to focus entirely on portrait painting.
During the 1911 Coronation Exhibition marking the 20th-anniversary of the Society, King George V conferred the status of a Royal Society. It has been known as the Royal Society of Portrait Painters since then.
The Society’s artists acquire inspiration from the old masters and with commitment and skill they had added considerably to the oeuvre of royal portraiture that reaches as far back as the Fifteenth Century when portraits became less stylised.
The Queen’s image is iconic and has been photographed or painted more than that of any other sovereign. When captured on canvas, in an age of social media, the soundbite and instant celebrity, it has a welcome continuity and also remains a significant and valued tradition.
Throughout the years many artists from the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, have painted portraits of the Queen.
The Society celebrated the Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilees with an exceptional gallery of royal portraits at their annual exhibition.
The Society is a registered charity with The Queen as its Patron. Its purpose is to enhance the education and appreciation of the fine arts with a focus on advancing distinction in the art of portraiture.
For further information visit their website: The Royal Society of Portrait Painters.
Portraits courtesy of The Royal Society of Portrait Painters 2015