Seven Queens in Sotheby’s Show of Power, Prestige and Pearls | art

Seven queens of these islands were gathered this month in an extraordinary gathering to celebrate the unparalleled length of Elizabeth II’s reign.

Sotheby’s has collected pictures of all the reigning queens from the Tudors onwards, with the exception of Lady Jane Grey, a teenage girl who only took the throne for nine days.

Portrait of Queen Elizabeth II with her eyes closed, wearing a tiara and a fur collar coat
The Lightness of Being by Chris Levine (2004). Photography: Chris Levine

Some of these “images of power” are better remembered than others in the five centuries covered, but Elizabeth I is the celebrity topping the pack, perhaps only overshadowing a selection of modern portraits of the current queen. Armada Portrait, attributed to George Gower, a painter’s censor to the Queen from 1581, was loaned by Woburn Abbey, owner of the best preserved copies of this work. One of the most famous photographs from British history, it shows the Good Queen Bess in the dress she is believed to have worn to address her troops at Tilbury. Her hand, resting on the globe, proves her strength and prestige.

For Sotheby’s Show Curator Power and Image: Royal Portraiture and IconsJulian Gascoigne, a specialist in Old Masters, the painting quickly became the centerpiece of the entire exhibition. “Not only has the iconic image of Elizabeth I, the ‘Virgin Queen,’ become famous, it is also one of the defining images of female power at any age,” he said this weekend. “Because it is endlessly reproduced in so many mediums, it can be hard to absorb the fact that you’re face-to-face with the real thing.”

Gascoigne had to take on the challenge of finding rare photos of all the queens’ royals on private property. “To my knowledge, this has never been done in this focused manner before, and certainly not outside the collections of major museums.”

Portrait of Queen Mary, looking at the stern and holding her hands
Queen Mary I by Hans Ewerth (1554). Photography: Todd White Art Photography

Portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots, from the French School recording her reign as Queen of Scots from 1542 to 1567. This unknown painter painted this portrait of the mother of the future King James from a drawing now held at the Condé Museum in Chantilly, France, commissioned by Catherine de Medici, Mary’s mother-in-law, along with Along with a set of colored pencils drawings for her children.

Hans Ewerth’s portrait of Queen Mary I, known as Bloody Mary, was transmitted via Mayfair from the Society of Antiquities at Burlington House, Piccadilly. 1554 ended, about 38 yearsThe tenth Her birthday, the first serious study painted after her coronation in 1553 depicts the queen in a sumptuous red and gold faux-fur dress and studded with diamonds. The grandeur may have been an attempt to add weight to the image of a woman expected to bear an heir to the kingdoms of England and Spain.

Mary II assumed the throne when Parliament invited her to join her husband, Prince William of Orange as joint monarchs following the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Portrait of Jan van der Vaart, depicted at the birth of today’s constitutional monarchy, shows her wearing velvet and a moon-slinger. A cloak over a blue loose-fitting gown with diamond brooches.

Queen Victoria is sitting on the throne with her feet on a pillow
Queen Victoria by George Hayter (1838). Photo: private group

Sir Godfrey Kneller’s painting of Queen Anne shows her presenting the blueprints of Blenheim Palace to a figure of “military merit”, perhaps modeled on the Duke of Marlborough himself, the palace’s lucky recipient. Anne became the first king of united Great Britain after the Act of Union of 1707.

George Hayter’s portrait of young Victoria was loaned to Sotheby’s from a private collection. This painting, ordered in 1838 by Mrs. Tussauds, shows all the royal decorations in red velvet, with the coronation robe and state crown, but it represents the moment when the monarchy became a popular confection rather than a real power in the land. Victoria’s youth and humanity are featured in the foreground of the photo, of which the current queen has a copy in her private collection.

The show runs until June 15 at the Sotheby’s Bond Street Sale Room, featuring a series of accompanying shows Lectures and presentations.

This article was modified 5 June 2022. An earlier version gave the dates of the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots 1542–87; She lived until 1587 but was forced to abdicate in 1567.