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Page 3 Profile: Nicky Philipps, royal artist


That can’t be the Queen?

You’d better believe it. Nicky Philipps, who painted an acclaimed double portrait of Princes William and Harry four years ago, has now turned her hand to the Queen. A small segment of the full portrait, which was commissioned by Royal Mail, appears on a new first class stamp to mark the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s coronation. To produce the painting, the 48-year-old artist had three hour-long sittings with Her Majesty in Buckingham Palace.

She could have done with longer

According to Royal Mail chief executive Moya Greene, “the Queen’s image is one of the most recognisable in the world”. You wouldn’t know it from this picture though, which might be the volunteer from your local Oxfam. “It’s Thatcher meets Rumpole of the Bailey meets Hogarth, in Hogarthian England, all the worse or perhaps the better for a glug of gin,” art critic Estelle Lovatt said. No closer to pinning down the likeness was David Lee, editor of art magazine The Jackdaw, who cruelly joked that it resembled “a bloke wearing a wig and earrings” and had a “hint of Churchill about it”. Philipps said “you can’t please everyone”, inviting critics of the stamp to come and see it in the flesh.

No, thank you

In fairness, Philipps’s portrait of the princes, which hangs in the National Portrait Gallery, is brilliant. Prince Harry complained that Philipps had made him “more ginger than I am in real life” while giving his brother “more hair”, but the stern, disapproving-older-brother look on the Duke of Cambridge’s face is a joy.

The royals don’t have much luck with these portraits, do they?

Paul Elmsley was vilified for his “rotten” portrait of Kate Middleton. One critic even said the duchess’s nose resembled that of former cricketer Ian Botham. Earlier this year, Dan Llywelyn Hall’s expressionist take on the queen was lambasted as a “hideous cartoon” that looked like a Spitting Image puppet.