Pietro Annigoni, Lucian Freud, Annie Leibovitz, Andy Warhol and Gerhard Richter’s depictions of Queen Elizabeth II will be amongst a number of works by famous artists on display at National Museum Cardiff from 4 February until 29 April 2012, as part of the National Portrait Gallery’s touring exhibition, The Queen: Art and Image.
The exhibition presents a survey in various media of the most significant images of Elizabeth II – the most portrayed individual in history – showing how the depiction of the Queen, and the way she has been perceived, have changed dramatically from the 1950s to the present day. Formal painted portraits, official photographs, media pictures, powerful responses by contemporary artists and personal experiences will all form a part of this exhibition, which contrasts traditional representations with more unconventional royal portraiture.
Also on display will be items from Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales’ collections. They will explore the Queen’s relationship with and visits to Wales, including the opening of the National Library of Wales in 1955 and how this compared to her later visit to Aberystwyth in 1996 to open the Library’s new wing, which was halted by protestors.
Formal painted portraits, official photographs, media pictures, powerful responses by contemporary artists and personal experiences will all form a part of this exhibition, which contrasts traditional representations with more unconventional royal portraiture.
Annigoni’s hugely popular life-size 1969 commission for the National Portrait Gallery will be on show as well as Justin Mortimer’s painting, where The Queen’s head floats away from her body against a huge background of flat vibrant yellow. Among the exhibited photographers for whom The Queen sat are Annie Leibovitz, Dorothy Wilding and Cecil Beaton - including his iconic Westminster Abbey Coronation image - and Chris Levine’s highly unusual photograph from a 2004 sitting of The Queen with her eyes closed.
The Queen: Art and Image will show a significant selection of unofficial portraits of the British monarch from major 20th century artists including those of Gilbert and George, Andy Warhol and Gerhard Richter as well as less formal portraits by such photographers as Eve Arnold, Patrick Lichfield and Lord Snowdon.
Documenting the changing nature of representations of the monarch, the exhibition will show how images serve as a lens through which to view shifting perceptions of royalty. This perspective reflects changes in the social and historical contexts and the exhibition highlights important developments and events: from The Queen’s relationship with the media, to the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, and the advent of new technology. This textured view of the period is shared through archival material – from newspapers to film footage, coinage portraits created by the Royal Mint at Llantrisant and consumer collectables.
Personal portrayals of the Queen by Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas AM, Media Wales’ Chief Arts Correspondent Karen Price, Adam Phillips from Balchder Cymru, and two residents from Sunrise Senior Living – Major James Geary and George Malcolm Pearce, will be shared through interviews on I-pads to coincide with the exhibition. Welsh language activist Meg Elis’ stories of Queen Elizabeth II will also be highlighted. In 1955, she was the five year old girl chosen to give a posy of flowers to the Queen at the National Library. By 1996, she played a lead role in the protest event in Aberystwyth.
The Queen: Art and Image has also toured other UK venues - National Gallery Complex, Edinburgh, Ulster Museum, Belfast (until 15 Jan 2012) and will end at the National Portrait Gallery in London, 17 May – 21 October 2012.
David Anderson, Director General of Amgueddfa Cymru said:
“Amgueddfa Cymru is pleased to be working in collaboration with one of the UK’s leading art institutions. This is an example of how effective partnerships between museums and galleries can make works by such influential artists such as Andy Warhol and Gerhard Richter, accessible to visitors across the UK.
“The National Portrait Gallery’s exhibition is an innovative take on a traditional subject, and I’m glad that we have been able to add an extra dimension, using items from our collection and interviews with key figures to give the display a Welsh perspective.”
The exhibition is curated by Paul Moorhouse, the National Portrait Gallery’s 20th Century Curator. At the National Portrait Gallery, he has curated the major retrospectives: Gerhard Richter Portraits and Pop Art Portraits. As part of the Gallery’s on-going Interventions series of displays he has curated John Gibbons: Portraits, Frank Auerbach: Four Portraits of Catherine Lampert, Andy Warhol: 10 Portraits of Jews of the 20th Century, Francis Bacon, Anthony Caro: Portraits and Bridget Riley Portraits.
Exhibition organised by the National Portrait Gallery, London in collaboration with the National Galleries of Scotland,, Edinburgh, Ulster Museum, Belfast and Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales
Entry to National Museum Cardiff is free, thanks to the support of the Welsh Government.
Amgueddfa Cymru operates seven national museums across Wales. These are National Museum Cardiff; St Fagans: National History Museum; National Roman Legion Museum, Caerleon; Big Pit: National Coal Museum, Blaenafon; National Wool Museum, Dre-fach Felindre; National Slate Museum, Llanberis and the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea.
For further information, images or interview opportunities, please contact Catrin Mears, Corporate Communications Officer, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales on (029) 2057 3185 / 07920 027067 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.