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New portrait of Queen Elizabeth unveiled for exhibition

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Written by Museum news release   
Thursday, 23 June 2011 09:40
The Queen and Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, by Thomas Struth,
2011. Copyright Thomas Struth. LONDON – A new portrait photograph of Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh has been commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery, London, and unveiled as part of its touring exhibition “The Queen: Art & Image,” which opens Saturday, June 25, at the Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh.

The large-scale portrait shows the Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip seated together in the Green Drawing Room at Windsor Castle. Commissioned to mark the queen’s forthcoming diamond jubilee and in the year of the duke’s 90th birthday, the photograph by the German artist Thomas Struth was taken on April 7.

Considered one of the world’s leading contemporary photographers, Struth worked with a large format plate camera, using natural light. The first double-portrait of the queen and prince to be commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery, it is also the gallery’s first commissioned portrait of the queen since John Wonnacott’s royal family group painting of 2000.

The London gallery’s new commission means that the exhibition, which surveys 60 years of portraits of Queen Elizabeth, can bring the story up to the present day. Among the highlights shown alongside the portrait in the exhibition will be Annigoni’s hugely popular life-size 1969 commission for the National Portrait Gallery, Lucian Freud’s 2000-01 portrait from the Royal Collection and Justin Mortimer’s controversial painting in which the queen’s head appears to be separated from her body, set against a huge background of vibrant yellow. “The Queen: Art & Image” is the most wide-ranging exhibition of images in different media devoted to a single royal sitter.

Among the exhibited photographers for whom the queen sat are Annie Leibovitz, Dorothy Wilding and Cecil Beaton – including his iconic Westminster Abbey coronation image – and Chris Levine’s extraordinary holographic photograph from 2007, which shows the queen with her eyes closed.

Paul Moorhouse, curator of “The Queen: Art & Image,” and the gallery’s curator of 20th Century Portraits, said: “Thomas Struth’s portrait is a sensitive evocation of individuals within a magnificent setting composed in terms of light, color, textures and formal arrangements. It is also a subtle exploration of human relationships.”

The portrait is unveiled ahead of a major retrospective exhibition “Thomas Struth: Photographs 1978 – 2010,” at the Whitechapel Gallery, London (July 6–Sept. 16). The German artist is highly regarded for a compelling body of work, in formation since the late 1970s, which includes cityscapes, studies of visitors seen in the context of great museum collections, still-life subjects and, most significantly, sympathetic portraits of individuals, families and groups of sitters.

Thomas Struth, born in Geldern, Germany, in 1954, lives and works in Berlin and New York. Struth was taught by Gerhard Richter and Bernd and Hilla Becher at Düsseldorf. He recently had a major traveling retrospective in the United States that included the Dallas Museum of Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in 2002. He is currently visiting professor at Oxford University.

The schedule for the touring exhibition is as follows:

  • Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, June 25–Sept. 18
  • Ulster Museum, Belfast, Oct. 14–Jan. 15
  • National Museum Cardiff, Feb. 4–April 29
  • National Portrait Gallery, London, May 17–Oct. 21, 2012

The Queen and Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, by Thomas Struth,
2011. Copyright Thomas Struth.
Last Updated on Thursday, 23 June 2011 10:34

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