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Iconic portraits of British queens from Mary, Queen of Scots to Elizabeth II

todayApril 14, 2022

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Written by Amarachi Orie, CNN

A showcase of portraits of queens who have ruled Britain will feature in a month-long program of exhibitions, events and auctions celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee.

The London exhibition of portraits loaned from country houses across the United Kingdom will present the likenesses of seven queens, from the larger-than-life Tudors, the dynasty that first brought the art of the image to the fore, through to the present-day royalty, Sotheby’s aution house said in a press release Wednesday.

The iconic Armada portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, which commemorates the failed invasion of England by the Spanish Armada in 1588, is on loan from the Woburn Abbey collection and will lead the showcase alongside Andy Warhol’s 1985 “Reigning Queens” portrait. Warhol’s image is a richly colored reinterpretation of the official photographic portrait taken in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee year.

The exhibition, which will run from May 28 to June 15, will also feature portraits of Mary, Queen of Scots, Queen Victoria, Queen Anne, Mary I and Mary II, lent from aristocratic and other British collections, Sotheby’s said.

Andy Warhol's 1985 "Reigning Queens" portrait.

Andy Warhol’s 1985 “Reigning Queens” portrait. Credit: Courtesy of Sotheby’s

The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June represents a historic cultural moment marking her 70 years on the throne.

In addition to the display of royal portraits, Sotheby’s will mark the milestone with specially curated exhibitions of rare, aristocratic jewels and tiaras, as well as books and manuscripts with royal provenance.

“Britain has long been known for its creativity and The Queen has been at the helm of this throughout her reign — both as custodian of a world-class collection, and the inspiration for artists, designers and more,” said Frances Christie, deputy chairman of Sotheby’s UK and Ireland, in the press release.

“This year, Her Majesty will become the first British Monarch to celebrate seventy years of service, the perfect opportunity for Sotheby’s, with our unique position at the helm of both art and luxury, to celebrate creativity in all its forms — art, music, literature, food, fashion and performing arts.”

UK-based artist Chris Levine's portrait of Queen Elizabeth II titled "Lightness of Being."

UK-based artist Chris Levine’s portrait of Queen Elizabeth II titled “Lightness of Being.” Credit: Courtesy of Sotheby’s

As part of the program of events, there will also be talks, debates and musical and dramatic performances centered around themes of arts and creativity, history and youth and future, Sotheby’s said.

A sale described by the auction house as showcasing the “very best of British art” will be held. “British Art: The Jubilee Auction” will be held on June 29 and will include new work of the Queen donated by Chris Levine.

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