Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II
by Dorothy Wilding
chlorobromide print on tissue and card mount, 26 February 1952
11 3/8 in. x 8 1/2 in. (290 mm x 215 mm)
Given by the photographer's sister, Susan Morton, 1976
Artistback to top
- Dorothy Wilding (1893-1976), Photographer. Artist associated with 2177 portraits, Sitter in 30 portraits.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Gittings, Clare, Portraits of Queen Elizabeth I: An Educational Resource Pack, 2003
- Moorhouse, Paul and Cannadine, David (appreciation), The Queen: Art and Image, 2011 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 17 May to 21 October 2012), p. 57 Read entry
Dorothy Wilding first photographed the Queen in 1937 at the Coronation of her father, King George VI. She subsequently made portraits of the Queen on significant occasions. To mark her accession, Elizabeth posed for the photographer fifty-nine times, wearing gowns by Norman Hartnell. Copies of the best images were sent to every embassy in the world and appeared on banknotes and millions of stamps.
- Pepper, Terence, In Pursuit of Perfection: The Photographs of Dorothy Wilding, 1991 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 5 July 1991 - 29 September 1991), p. 101 Read entry
Wilding's best-known portraits of the 1950s are undoubtedly those taken for the Coronation and accession of Queen Elizabeth II. The new monarch was shown first in a black taffeta strapless evening dress (P870(5)) and then in the full panoply of majesty with glittering crown, sashes, ribbons and orders (P870(6)). These formal portraits were sent to every embassy in the world and remained the most memorable images of the Queen at least until her Silver Jubilee. Other studies from these sittings formed the basis for the new currency and appeared on millions of stamps, known in stamp-collecting circles as 'Wildings'.
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 201
Subjects & Themesback to top
Events of 1952back to top
Current affairsKing George VI is found dead in his bed in Sandringham; he had been suffering from lung cancer. His daughter Elizabeth, who was in Kenya at the time, became Queen, the only monarch not to know the precise moment of her accession as her father was alone when he died. Elizabeth was crowned the following year.
Art and scienceSamuel Beckett's play, Waiting for Godot is performed for the first time in Paris. The play belongs to the Theatre of the Absurd style, which influenced playwrights such as Harold Pinter and Tom Stoppard.
Agatha Christie's play The Mousetrap opens in London. It is still going.
InternationalMau Mau rebels in Kenya rise up against the British colonial administration. The rebellion was sparked by the growing poverty of the native farmers under the rule of white settlers and called for Kenyan independence. The violence of the rebels, who often murdered settlers and loyalists, was met by the indiscriminate suppression by the British Military, who executed hundreds of suspects.
Listen to a series of podcasts exploring the lives of pioneering women, past and present.
William Eggleston was closely associated with the alternative music scene in Memphis. Revisit our 2016 exhibition and listen to a special playlist.
Links to audio and transcripts of interviews with artists, sitters and historic recordings.
- The Face of Monarchy
- The Queen's Golden Jubilee
- NPG D48090 in 360°
- Artists and sitters
- Kings and Queens: A Family tree
- Britain 1960-1990
- Yousuf Karsh
- Anthony Buckley
- 150 Years: The National Portrait Gallery
- Commonwealth Trail
- A Question of Identity: Self-Portrait Photographs 1850-2000
- Learn more
- Before Windrush: Images of Black and Asian Figures
- Photographic holdings - print and negative collections
- In Close Up: Laurence Olivier
- Centenaries and Centenarians
- The Royal Ballet at 75
- The World's Most Photographed
- Mirror Mirror: Self-portraits by women artists
Tell us more
Framed & unframed prints
Choose your favourite portrait from our Collection as a framed or unframed print for your home.