Warhol’s pop art Queen to go on show to mark Jubilee

According to Sotheby’s, the Armada depiction of Elizabeth I is described as ‘one of most seminal images of female power ever created’

Charlie Duffield
Wednesday 13 April 2022 11:51 BST
Portraits of the Queen by Andy Warhol (left) and Chris Levine (right)
Portraits of the Queen by Andy Warhol (left) and Chris Levine (right) (Sothebys)

Andy Warhol’s pop art print of the Queen, and the famous Armada portrait of Elizabeth I, will be on show in a Jubilee exhibition of artworks.

The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee is on 2 June 2022 and will be a celebration of her 70 years on the throne.

In commemoration of this national milestone, the auction house Sotheby’s has a month-long programme of exhibitions and events - the Jubilee Arts Festival - to showcase British creativity.

From 28 May to 15 June, the galleries will be taken over by specially curated exhibitions of royal portraits, rare aristocratic jewels and important manuscripts.

The Sotheby’s show will depict queens who have ruled throughout history, with paintings of the seven queen regnants who were crowned in their own right, spanning Tudor times to the Platinum Jubilee age of Elizabeth II.

According to Sotheby’s, the depiction of Elizabeth I is described as “one of the most seminal images of female power ever created”.

Meanwhile Warhol’s painting of Elizabeth II shows the Queen as both “glamourous” and “commanding”.

Key portraits of Mary I, Mary II, Queen Anne, Queen Victoria and Mary Queen of Scots, lent from arisotcratic and other British collections, will also be on show.

In addition, there will be almost 40 noble and aristocratic tiaras with British and European royal provenance - some of which have never been seen before - and dating as far back as the 1830s.

Sebastian Fahey, managing director of Sotheby’s EMEA, said: “We’ve certainly never done anything like this, or on this scale, here before, and it has been a pleasure to work in this way with so many of the important institutions and families across the entire country.

“I’m sure the galleries will look absolutely spectacular, with an astonishing collection of portraits under the same roof the first time - including the Armada, which is one of the most seminal images of female power ever created - alongside tiaras that span two centuries, and important manuscripts that formed part of the pageantry of our monarchy.”

The Duke of Bedford’s collection at Woburn Abbey leant the portrait of Elizabeth I, which was painted to commemorate the failed invasion of England by the Spanish Armada in 1588.

Julian Gascoigne, director of early British paintings at Sotheby’s, said: “The most complete of three versions painted in that same year, the painting encapsulates the aspirations of the nation at a watershed moment in history whilst also carefully disseminating an awe-inspiring spectacle of female power and majesty.”

Elizabeth I is dressed in her finery with an elaborate lace neck ruff, and places her hand on a globe.

Scenes of English ships sailing in tranquil weather are seen behind her, with the Spanish Armada being wrecked during a storm.

Then the modern perspective is a brightly coloured screen print, in blue tones, from Warhol’s Reigning Queen 1985 series.

The collection was based on an official photograph released for the monarch’s Silver Jubilee.

Tom Eddison, Sotheby’s senior director and contemporary art specialist, described the piece as “perfectly representing the global and celebrity age” in which the Queen has reigned.

More than a dozen tiaras, including a 1960s turquoise cabaochon and diamond piece by Van Cleef & Arpels will also be available to view.

Another is designed as a wreath of diamond-set leaves dates from the 1830s, and was crafted in homage to the classical designs of ancient Rome and inspired by a revival of the style during Napoleon’s rule.

The death warrant of the 7th Earl of Northumberland signed by Elizabeth I, dating from 1572 and loaned from Alnwick Castle will also be on show.

The auction house is holding a British Art: The Jubilee Auction on June 2, with pieces by Turner, Gainsborough, Barbara Hepworth, Lucian Freud, David Hockney, Bridget Riley and Banksy.

A new work of the Queen, donated by artist Chris Levine, will also be for sale, with proceeds benefiting the Platinum Jubilee Pageant.

Based on Levin’s 2004 portrait of the Queen marking 800 years of allegiance to the Crown by the Island of Jersey, it’s called ‘Lightness Of Being’ and shows the monarch with her eyes closed.

It is expected to fetch between £100,000 and £150,000.

The Jubilee Arts Festival at Sotheby’s, 34-35 New Bond Street in London will run from May 28 to June 15 - entry is free and tickets can be booked in advance.

Other activities include historical talks, musical performances and a family day.

More information can be found at www.sothebys.com/jubilee.

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