Friday, September 28, 2012

The Coronation Theatre, Westminster Abbey: A Portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Australian painter Ralph Heimans has chosen Westminster Abbey as the location for an official portrait of Her Majesty the Queen in celebration of her Diamond Jubilee. Her Majesty is portrayed standing in the middle of the Cosmati pavement, in the location where she swore her Coronation Oath on 2nd June 1953.

Commenting on his prestigious commission, Ralph Heimans said: "Through the narrative of this portrait I wanted to explore the dynamic between the public role of the Queen and the personal, human dimension. Westminster Abbey is laden with extraordinary power – there isn’t a place more beautiful in this country." The artist spent two evenings at the Abbey earlier this year in preparation for the work.

The Queen is pictured wearing a state dress beneath the crimson velvet Robe of State, which she wore at the Coronation in June 1953, and which she has worn to the State Opening of Parliament each year for the last 60 years. Her diamond necklace and earrings were made for Queen Victoria and were worn by Her Majesty on the day of her Coronation.

Measuring 2.5m high by 3.5m wide, the oil painting, entitled 'The Coronation Theatre, Westminster Abbey: A Portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II', was unveiled on Friday 28th September at the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra in Australia. It will be exhibited in London in the run-up to the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation on 2nd June.

The Dean of Westminster Dr John Hall was invited to a private view of the portrait in London last week. He said: "When I first saw it, I found breathtaking the power of the image and the wonderful sense of Her Majesty’s contemplative focus, as well as the depiction of the Abbey in all its grandeur and beauty."


Blogger Bred in the bone said...

Someone crashed into the back of my car the other day, when I said I wanted to get a picture for the insurance, they seemed reasonable enough

Until I got my paints and easel out that was, now we are having a review of the car insurance industry, could they consider old fashioned folk like me and Her Maj

Love the Rajastic And Sattvic qualities of the dress and train by the way

28 September 2012 at 23:33  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

God Save the Queen!

God Save the Queen!

God Save the Queen!

Hip, Hip, Hooray!

God Save the Queen!

28 September 2012 at 23:36  
Blogger non mouse said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

28 September 2012 at 23:44  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

She looks rather contemplative and somewhat resigned to me. Perhaps reviewing the massive changes since she first ascended the Throne and the distance the Establishment has moved away from the Christian message.

May God Bless and Keep Her.

28 September 2012 at 23:57  
Blogger non mouse said...

Vivat indeed, as Lord Lavendon might imply.

One small thing, though Your Grace. You say Measuring 2.5m high by 3.5m wide : which leaves me wishing you'd said what the measurements are ...... ??

29 September 2012 at 00:01  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Can we have the "Tolkien-esque nutsoid" quotes relayed in a live feed? I did so enjoy them last time :)

29 September 2012 at 00:44  
Blogger ENGLISHMAN said...

A criminal returns to the scene of the crime.

29 September 2012 at 08:22  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Does seem to have a ‘what have I done’ demeanour about it...

29 September 2012 at 10:48  
Blogger Matthias said...

What do you know? an Australian -sorry a Colonial- paints a pretty good picture. Yes God Save the Queen i say and naff to the Republic ,and as an Aussie i also say to the artist "ripper, beauty, bonzer, bottler, good on ya mate !" Better than "Aussie ,Aussie ,Aussie Oih Oih oih"

29 September 2012 at 11:29  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Matthias. The painting is beautiful. It’s her majesty’s expression, one would like to think of a certain regret she has for all the UK powers she has signed away to a foreign conspiracy as head of state...

29 September 2012 at 11:43  
Blogger John Magee said...

Beautiful, reflective, natural, dare I say majestic too? Yes.

29 September 2012 at 15:58  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

It is a stunner, but he's painted her looking melancholy and triste, but to me the Queen isn't
that sort. She almost looks defeated and done in here. Would she really ever adopt that look and pose in public when wearing the Robe of State?
I think the artist was trying to portray her and her role as greatly diminished since she first became Queen and it is a shame.

29 September 2012 at 16:49  
Blogger non mouse said...

Your Grace ... Marie may well be right that HM looks a trifle sad. The situation is appalling, even regarding her place as Head of the Church.

Having perused Your Grace's Twitter-posts, I decided to check on the Meissen Commission and its present proceedings in Germany. A bishop called Baines has written that, this last week, the group has considered a: Reorganisation Scheme for the dioceses of Bradford, Ripon & Leeds and Wakefield. It carefully considered the representations made to it, both at this stage and earlier, and has unanimously decided to proceed with a draft scheme bringing all three dioceses together.*

Ain't that wunnerful? All those Germans busy uniting with the CoE while we're not looking ... and deciding how to re-set the boundaries of our ancient dioceses. No wonder I can no longer abide what's going on at church in my native town. HM's not the only one who has a right to be discomforted.

Why is anyone even bothering about electing a new ABC?

*I believe it's wise to keep track of the enemy, and honour requires that I cite my source. I know Your Grace provides a link for this personage: on the right :)

29 September 2012 at 21:23  
Blogger bluedog said...

A superb portrait, Your Grace, and a worthy rival to the work of Annigoni. Heiman's painting beautifully defines Her Majesty late in her reign in a wonderful moment of reflection.

29 September 2012 at 23:20  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

I will be skewered for this by everyone here and most likely by you as well, Your Grace but, I'm not a fan of this painting.

When I saw it on your site my first thought was that it's a screen capture for a new computer game. It also reminds me of the old colour lithographs made with a limited palette of hues, such as those on pre-War textbooks. Observe the artificiality, simplicity and flatness of the colours, the stylized detailing of the background and confusing shadowing of the cathedral's interior in contrast to that of the figure of Her Majesty. There is also a strange disconnect between the warm colour scheme of the background and the cooler range in the figure. In classical portraiture, especially by the 18th and 19th century Masters you may note that the figures subtly reflect the hues of the background and that faint traces of contrasting colours are used even in seemingly monochromatic areas.

What is puzzling to me is that the artist is truly a master, as evidenced by his skillful and sensitive treatment of Her Majesty's face, but that he is such a poor colourist. If this were a close-up portrait in monochrome, it would be a superb painting.

Another aspect I find troublesome, Your Grace, is that I cannot shake the feeling that the painting mocks the subject matter with the over-wrought display of "pageantry" seen in the background and Her Majesty's costume, with the "too human" almost pitiful demeanour of the subject. I'm of course expressing my prejudice for classical treatments, as I feel that a royal portrait should not attempt to "humanise," but must strive to be "regal."

To illustrate some of my points, I would like to draw your attention to what I think are two of the best modern treatments of the same subject by the Italian painter, Pietro Annigoni:

Critiquing other artists is not easy, Your Grace, because painting is so bloody hard. I myself made a portrait of Her Majesty (then Princess Elizabeth) back in 2004 based on a black and white 1951 photograph by the famous Yusuf Karsh. It is in oil on gessoed cardboard at 11"x14" and I had it titled, a tad pompously, The Golden Princess. It took many corrections, and I'm guilty of a number of errors I accuse Mr Heimans of and some I don't. See:

I welcome criticism (not really, but what choice do I have?), so bring it on, folks. I have been working on a large painting of Her Majesty, on-and-off for the last couple of years. It's based on sketches from more recent photographs, but the work is going badly and I may have to scrape the canvas clean and begin anew.

30 September 2012 at 06:52  
Blogger IanCad said...

I don't like the painting one bit.
It looks as if she has given up; Or is about to.

I'm with non mouse.

Why is the metric system being used?
Even the BBC describes it as standing11 feet by 9 feet.

I say let's poke the EU beast in the eye at every opportunity.

Yards Feet and Inches.

Metrication is "Distance For Dummies."

30 September 2012 at 08:31  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr IanCad asks, 'Why is the metric system being used?'

Because it's the global standard. Anything non-metric is strictly for the cottage industries.

30 September 2012 at 12:45  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

I like using both systems for different purposes. For printing and art, body weights and dimensions, I like the Imperial, which gives me easy-to-remember numbers for standard sizes; for architectural and construction, where calculations need to be made, I prefer SI. In Canada we've gone over to SI, but Imperial is still hanging on.

30 September 2012 at 13:16  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Whatever one thinks about the EU, decimialisation and metric measurements are one of its good features.


"David Cameron’s plans to introduce minimum prices for alcohol to tackle Britain’s binge drinking culture have been left in tatters by a legal threat from Brussels.

The European Commission has challenged Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond’s law which imposes a price hike on booze - a plan which Mr Cameron hoped to follow in England and Wales.

Officials in Brussels told Scottish ministers they had to withdraw legislation to impose a 50p-per-unit price on alcohol because it was ‘not compatible’ with the EU Treaty."


We don't need Salmond and Cameron telling us how much we should drink or setting the prices. Hold the yobs responsible for over drinking, not everyone else. Besides, it interfers with free trade.

30 September 2012 at 15:28  
Blogger non mouse said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

30 September 2012 at 15:33  
Blogger non mouse said...

Thanks, Mr. Ian Cad @ 08:31! Even the BBC describes it as standing 11 feet by 9 feet. :) Love your: "Metrication is 'Distance For Dummies' "; and I -- being a British Dummy as required by the neu order -- just can't wrap my ears round their terminology.

After all, our system was very global until the euros forced theirs on everybody. Methinks we never forced ours ... it just worked for trade: the Anglosphere made/bought the things most people traded.

Then the masters imposed the change from £sd. That was the thin edge of a wedge which, mercifully, is not yet fully hammered into place. However, maybe we stopped being able to figure out the budgets afterwards--and that's why the world's now in such a mess :)) [ though, maybe that should be :(( ]

Btw, except for currency, the US retains real measurements in general use. For instance, they've never latched onto Centigrade. [I know, I know... but I learned my physics before the frogules took that over as well].

30 September 2012 at 15:46  
Blogger IanCad said...

Bluedog, Dodo,

Given that it's simpler, it does not necessarily mean that it is better.

The duodecimal system (base 12) is far more flexible.

Yards, feet, inches, furlongs, miles are, by their distinctive sounds, far less likely to be misunderstood than centimetres, metres and kilometres.

Perhaps a better illustration would be in our monetary denominations.
A thousand pounds is well understood in its relationship to a hundred, as is a million to a thousand.

Now a billion is a lot more but it sounds like a million. Such is also the case with a trillion.

Politicians love this:

"A trillion pound deficit"?
"Dosen't sound much more than a billion"
"I'm sure the voters won't notice."

30 September 2012 at 15:56  
Blogger IanCad said...


I'm a builder and it is in this field that I have most difficulty with metric.
There is an awful lot mental arithmetic and I find it is so much easier in Imperial.
Particularly when it comes to division.
All the good construction calculators can be used for either system.

Thanks for the kind words non mouse

"Methinks we never forced ours"

You have a point.

If most of the world wants to speak our language then they'd better learn our Imperial System.
They will all be the better for it.

30 September 2012 at 16:19  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Funnily enough, I prefer an imperial pint of Guisness but a metric litre of Whiskey.

30 September 2012 at 23:14  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Hi Dodo,

"I prefer an imperial pint of Guisness but a metric litre of Whiskey."


30 September 2012 at 23:19  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Why thank you Hannah.

Does this mean I can join you and Rachel in the sukkot, especially now that Belfast has declined? I a wide repertoire of Irish tales and stories and am accomplished in speaking with a lyrical West coast accent.

1 October 2012 at 01:28  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr IanCad @ 15.56, never said that metric was either simpler or better, just that it is a system that has emerged as the global standard. All those continuing with Imperial measures are simply awarding themselves a handicap in a highly competitive global economy.

Sorry, but that's the way it is.

1 October 2012 at 12:32  
Blogger John Chater said...

It is a mournful picture, depicting the Queen as a lonely, isolated figure. Surely this is intentional – the Queen alone in her commitment to the great tradition and nobility of her office. In its bathos it serves as an indictment of those who should be there with her: her government, family and nation, all of which seem have acquiesced to the redefinition of Britain and its history.

Avi's comments on style are very telling, for here we see the greatest building in English history rendered in flat and unremarkable tones – out of focus, deflated, vague and uncertain.

It is sorrowful, a wake, a last adieu.

1 October 2012 at 15:06  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Hi Dodo,

Of course you can come into our sukkah, afterall the roof does have shamrock in it ! Although with five of us using it already, it might be a bit overcrowded !

1 October 2012 at 21:18  
Blogger Naomi King said...

Let's pray that Her Majesty will remember her coronation oath if she is ever invited to assent to Homosexual so called marriage.

She gave her sacred oath before God and man in June 1953 to "uphold to the utmost of our power the LAWS OF GOD in the realm and the true profession of the CHRISTIAN GOSPEL"

It is a tragedy that she failed to keep that oath when she signed into law the abortion act in 1967 and sanctioned the murder in dark places of 6 million children to the gods of fornication, adultery and lasciviousness.

I do pray that if this ungodly proposed legislation of David Cameron and his ilk is ever placed before her she will be reminded of her sacred undertaking to God who she will be meeting face to face soon and she will refuse to give assent. I am informed that the King of Belgium refused to enact an abortion act in Belgium to save his soul when it was presented, so the Belgium Parliament removed powers from him for a day and enacted it themselves with out his authority.

Beautiful picture by the way. Thank you for drawing our attention to it your Grace.

And finally great news from Northern Ireland, Praise God, defeat for the homosexual lobby as Stormont rejects homosexual marriage.

It is interesting what the Presbetarian Church said in the lead up to this vote yesterday

The Presbyterian Church has written to all Northern Ireland Assembly members (MLAs) stating its staunch opposition to equal marriage.

The assembly is debating a motion on same-sex marriage this afternoon.

The BBC reports, in its letter, the Presbyterian Church said it was “not merely an issue of conscience for Christian people and churches, but a very significant one for the whole of society”.

It said marriage for same-sex couples would “effectively demolish” generations and centuries of societal norms.

“The steady erosion of such values, with minimal debate about the world view replacing them, causes us the very greatest concern,” it added.

The church argued it was not an equality issue because it said all of the significant legal benefits and rights available through marriage are already available through civil partnerships.

I am reminded of three verses of holy scripture

Isaiah 58 : 6 Loose the bands of wickedness, undo the heavy burdens, let the oppressed go free and break every yoke.

Isaiah 10 : 33 the LORD shall lop the bough with terror and the high ones of stature shall be hewn down, and the haughty shall be humiliated.

Isaiah 10 : 1 woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed.

2 October 2012 at 07:23  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Hag sameah, Hannah; sorry for the late greetings; it's been busy. You need to build a bigger sukkah for Dodo's ego, not to mention his tail feathers, which will knock everything off the table. Get him to shake the lulav and etrog too, while he's there.

3 October 2012 at 18:08  

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