Warhol's Queen pictures go on show


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Artist Andy Warhol, who famously said he wanted to be as famous as the Queen, has had four of his celebrated portraits of Elizabeth II acquired by the Royal Collection.

Fittingly, as the Queen marked her 60th year on the throne this year, the works - created in 1985 and part of a series called Reigning Queens - are sprinkled with diamond dust.

They will be displayed for the first time in the exhibition The Queen: Portraits Of A Monarch from November 23, which is being staged at Windsor Castle.

The brightly coloured images, which include one in electric blue and another in neon pink, are screenprints each measuring 39in (100cm) by 31.5in (80cm).

As in many of his other famed works, he used an earlier photo to create his portrait, in this case a picture taken in April 1975 by photographer Peter Grugeon which was widely used during the Silver Jubilee celebrations two years later.

The Queen can be seen wearing the Vladimir tiara, Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee necklace, Queen Alexandra's wedding earrings and King George VI's Family Order, pinned to the Garter sash.

For the Reigning Queens series, Warhol, who died in 1987 and once said "I want to be as famous as the Queen of England", depicted the four ruling queens of the time - Elizabeth II, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, Queen Margrethe of Denmark and Queen Ntombi Twala of Swaziland.

The images which have been acquired are from the "Royal Edition" of the prints, coated with the shimmering powdered particles of diamond and crushed glass.

The new exhibition will highlight the many different ways the Queen has been represented throughout her six decades on the throne. It will continue until June 9 next year.

Royal librarian Jane Roberts described the portraits as "huge, extremely colourful and very striking".

She said: "The Warhol prints of the Queen are in many ways the most important popular image of the Queen to be created by an artist print maker over the last few decades.

"What Andy Warhol did with print making was very new, and particularly in these images where he uses the same outlines and applies different colourways to it, which is something very personal to him. It's playing around with an image in a way which is entirely new."

She added: "Warhol produced these prints in these different colourways with the intention that they should be seen together as a set, reacting off each other."