The Easel

20th September 2022

13th September 2022

Picturing the Queen: How artists portrayed Queen Elizabeth II through her reign

The media is giving us an Elizabethan week, following the death of the English monarch. She was perhaps the “most visually depicted individual ever”.  Being on the throne as the mass media age blossomed, she was irresistible to image makers. A key decision, it seems, was whether or not to flatter.  Warhol, like many others, showed her “eternal regal glamour”. Lucien Freud painted a small, controversial portrait that showed “she had been through a lot”. She never commented on it.

The Not-So-Golden Age of Holland

The Dutch Golden Age, the century following Holland’s independence from Spain in 1588, was an era of great cultural achievement – Rembrandt, Vermeer and more.  Holland grew wealthy from its colonies and the art that we celebrate today displays those “exploitative” relationships. Portraits show the trappings of colonial wealth, for example, and indigenous figures are portrayed as “accessories” of the wealthy. Beautiful they may be, but these paintings are “bitter fruits” of the Golden Age.