A landmark travelling exhibition reflecting more than 80 years of artistic interpretation has arrived at the National Portrait Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2. It shows 60 years of exhibits, 58 images and a pretty equally balanced combination of photographs and paintings.

Despite a lifetime of scrutiny, Her Majesty’s gracefulness and nobility remain a constant: as a glamorous young queen bringing cheer to the nation, through motherhood, as head of the Royal Family and of the State during some turbulent times in the 1980s and 1990s, to more recent works, such as the much-discussed Lightness of Being (2004), Chris Levine’s holographic photograph of her at rest with her eyes closed between exposures.

Curator Paul Moorhouse comments: ‘The Queen is the most represented individual in history, but she remains an enigma. All we really have are images. This exhibition explores the creation of The Queen’s public persona and the way such images reveal a world of changing ideas and values.’

Photographers and artists featured include Cecil Beaton, Andy Warhol, Annie Leibovitz, Lord Lichfield, Lord Snowdon, Lucian Freud and Gerhard Richter, whose 1967 portrait has been loaned by the Museum Wiesbaden in Germany for the first time. Pietro Annigoni’s 1954-55 portrait of The Queen in Garter Robes will be seen in public for the first time in 26 years. Owned by the Fishmongers’ Company, it drew crowds 10-deep when it was first shown at the Royal Academy.

It will be hung next to the artist’s 1969 painting of The Queen, only the second time in history the two works have been seen together. Annigoni said of his 1969 work: ‘I did not want to paint her as a film star, I saw her as a monarch, alone in the problems of her responsibility.’

‘The Queen: Art and Image’ runs until October 21 and advance booking is particularly recommended at weekends; tickets cost £6 (020-7766 7344; www.npg.org.uk).

* Subscribe

to Country Life
and save £1 per week