Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II

by Andy Warhol
silkscreen print, 1985
39 3/8 in. x 31 1/2 in. (1000 mm x 800 mm)
Purchased, 1986
Primary Collection
NPG 5882(3)

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  • Andy Warhol (1928-1987), Artist. Artist of 8 portraits, Sitter in 2 portraits.

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The American artist and filmmaker Andy Warhol once said 'I want to be as famous as the Queen of England'. An initiator and exponent of Pop Art in the 1950s and 60s, he used photography, often not his own, to create secondary images which had an innovatory and rejuvenating impact on the nature of portraiture. This iconic set of portraits is part of a series entitled Reigning Queens, which included Queen Margarethe of Denmark, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and Queen Ntombi of Swaziland, and is derived from an official 1977 Jubilee photograph by Peter Grugeon. The repetition of the four prints is reminiscent of postage stamps, reflecting the sheer quantity of images that exist of the Queen, but each print has a separate identity. Warhol has treated the Queen not as a monarch, but as one of the many celebrities he depicted, and he once said 'I want to be as famous as the Queen of England'. His approach reinvigorated the traditional presentation of royalty.

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