A royal portrait that's really fit for a Queen

Queen portrait

Queen Elizabeth stands on the spot where she had her coronation on June 2, 1953 in this Diamond Jubilee portrait. (© Ralph Heimans. Photo: Max Communications/Colin White)

Capturing Queen Elizabeth on canvas has always been a hit-and-miss proposition for artists.

She has sat for about 140-plus artists during her lifetime, each one looking to capture both the woman and the majesty. Most miss the mark in one way or another.

The latest entry, by 42-year-old Australian-born Ralph Heimans, scores high marks on almost every count.

The only official portrait of the monarch in her Diamond Jubilee year is an almost life-size 9x11-feet, capturing the Queen in a contemplative pose on the very spot where she was crowned in the Sacrarium at Westminster Abbey.

Heimans, who also did a portrait of Crown Princess Mary of Denmark in 2006, spent six months working on this canvas. The Queen sat for him in March in the Yellow Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace. He then used detailed photos the Abbey to create the majestic background to the work.

"She’s a beautiful subject to paint, she has a great face," said Heimans.

“Because she’s an old lady and has beautiful kind eyes, instantly when she approached I was at ease.... She’s amazingly vulnerable. I wanted to be very honest.”

The portrait was unveiled this week at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, Australia. It will be on display there until March, when it heads to London.

“Through the narrative of the portrait I wanted to produce a work of particular significance for the Diamond Jubilee," said Heimans. “By representing the Queen as she reflects on this incredible milestone in her life, I wanted to explore the dynamic between her public role and the personal, emotional dimension."

Did it work?

Well, the Queen never comments on her portraits publicly. Some reports, though, say the Palace is more than pleased. And judging by some of the comments on media sites in the UK, most are giving the portrait the thumbs up.

"What she's got here is a minutely painted, hyper-realist portrait of excellent technique, which places her on an historic spot of deep personal meaning," wrote Daily Mail art critic Godfrey Baker. "Some may say she looks downcast but I see reflection combined with optimism."

So, what do you think?



Queen face
A detailed look at the Queen's face in the Diamond Jubilee portrait. (© Ralph Heimans. Photo: Max Communications/Colin White)

Queen floor
A detailed look at the Westminster Abbey floor in the Diamond Jubilee portrait. (© Ralph Heimans. Photo: Max Communications/Colin White)





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This is the kind of potraits it need to be more of her. I also like "Equanimity" and "Lightness of Being" (the 3-D pictures) that show the same thing, the soul. She has an inner potential to show her inner life now because of her age. When the queen don't talk, this is the only way she can give us her inner thoughts. Let's hope more artists will understand she is as best right now to work on, because of her fantastic face that show so much more now and the eyes that has more soul then ever.

I agree with Godfrey Baker. Splendid!

What a wonderful piece of art. The detail is amazing and from my eye is of the quality of some of the old masters. This artist has capturered this most beautiful lady our Queen to perfection.
Thank you

STUNNING!!!!! up there with the painting of Henry V111th

Conception, setting etc, wonderful.

Numbers of meanings in the self examination within the facial expression, I think less excellent.

But overall a worthy commemoration of all she stands for.

This is a good portrait, though with the downcast eyes she looks more defeated than reflective; if it had a slight smile it would look more reflective. With the central figure not centered, it takes the focus away from the Queen and seems more of a portrait of the place with the Queen as an after thought.

This is absolutely beautiful. The detail, the light, the somber and thoughtful look for the Queen, what a talent.

A stunning Portrait.....As a committed Royalist, I think it does Her Majesty more than justice, and I think she must be more than pleased with the painting.....Top marks. Wouldn,t mind a smaller print of this in my own home.

I think it's a wonderful portrait, with such depth and meaning.

My first thought was that she looks so lonely on this painting... still a great piece of art tho.

My God, Magnificent! It's so well painted you'd swear it was really the Queen! I'm not someone who generally appreciates portrait paintings, but this one really speaks to me. You've done Her Royal Majesty, and the Crown Proud as fair as I'm concerned. Well done.

This is a masterful portrait by an incredibly talented artist. He has depicted this monarch near the end of her long reign, pensively thinking back on her life. Regardless as to how public a figure she may appear to be, at the end she is alone. Contrast this to Pietro Annigoni 1956's interpretation of the young Queen Elizabeth who was just starting her reign looking out into the future with hope, determination and just the slight hint of youth's arrogance. Both wonderful, wonderful works of modern art.

She looks like a sad lonely isolated woman disconnected from life and the world. One is the lonliest number.......

Stunning portrait - great article too. Slight typo in the article: "publically" should be "publicly". Sorry for being anal! :)

I don't follow the royals as a general rule but this portrait is beautiful. Some will see a degree of sadness or melencholy on her face while others will see contemplation and a face full of experience. I see both sadness and happiness for the times gone by and contemplation on the huge responsibilities past and future she has had put on her shoulders. Her reign has been a long one and hopefully there is many more years to come.

A "Mona Lisa painting". I see that we see different things in her face depending who watching her. Amazing. The artist have succe whith what he wanted. I think she looks proud, nostalgic, wise and maybe surprized she made it. It is a face of a lady who started an impossible mission. She has learned a lot about her self and life. It is not a kind of life we have, that was not ment for her, therefore she must of course feel very alone many times.

The Queen really is, still lovely. She still has her twinkling blue eyes. Her smile is still full of mischief. Her hair is beautiful. Her skin is wonderful. During her Silver Jubilee, she looked absolutely radiant.

I do love that painting of the Queen. Her entire life is mirrored on her face, in that painting. Queen Elizabeth is a very remarkable women. I hope we have her as our Monarch, for many more years.

I can look at this pic and see your Queen reflecting on any one of the thousands of events that she has witnessed in her life time of living history. God save your Queen.............from Bonnie in Wallkill New York.

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