Prints and Multiples / Andy Warhol (1928-1987) Queen Elizabeth II, from Reigning Queens Unique screenprint in colours, 1985, on Lenox Museum Board, signed and numbered TP 26/30 in pencil, one of 30 colour variant trial proofs aside from the edition of 40 (there were also 10 artist's proofs), printed by Rupert Jasen Smith, New York, with their blindstamp, published by George C.P. Mulder, Amsterdam, the full sheet, in overall very good condition, the colours strong and vibrant, framedSheet 1001 x 799mm. (39 3/8 x 31 1/2in.)
Sold for £277,500 inc. premium
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Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Unique screenprint in colours, 1985, on Lenox Museum Board, signed and numbered TP 26/30 in pencil, one of 30 colour variant trial proofs aside from the edition of 40 (there were also 10 artist's proofs), printed by Rupert Jasen Smith, New York, with their blindstamp, published by George C.P. Mulder, Amsterdam, the full sheet, in overall very good condition, the colours strong and vibrant, framed
Sheet 1001 x 799mm. (39 3/8 x 31 1/2in.)
Belgravia Gallery, London (with their label).
Sotheby's, Old Master, Modern & Contemporary Prints, London, 19 March 2013, Lot 177.
Acquired from the above sale by the current owner.
In 1985 Warhol produced his largest portfolio Reigning Queens, containing screenprint portraits of the four ruling female monarchs of the day: Queen Elizabeth II, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and Queen Ntombi Twala of Swaziland. The image of Queen Elizabeth II was based on a photograph taken by Peter Grugeon at Windsor Castle on 2 April 1975 and released to celebrate Her Majesty's Silver Jubilee in 1977.
Warhol was fascinated by fame and celebrity. He was the first artist to really comprehend the appeal of celebrity culture and how to harness this appeal to his advantage by producing iconic images of the famous and the glamorous which had an immediate impact and charisma. Warhol's decision to produce an image of the monarch took this up a level. A royal likeness stood apart from other portraits as the ultimate image of fame, celebrity and glamour and was treated with a certain reverence. On the other hand, Warhol was also well aware that this image would be instantly recognizable and attractive to collectors, thereby increasing his own fame by association, notably quoting "I want to be as famous as The Queen of England".
Having worked as a commercial illustrator, Warhol understood how to present an image to attract attention. He favoured the screenprint process, which produced a precise defined image with hard edges and flat areas of colour, to achieve maximum impact for his radical and glamorous Pop art portraits. The use of this method is pertinent for the Queen as the most depicted woman in the world and indeed the bust length format and vibrant colours call to mind another iconic item of mass production, the postage stamp.
Warhol has pared down the original image, removing some of the finer detail which gives character to the face, to leave an inscrutable façade. He has highlighted outlines on areas such as the crown and sash with the Royal Family orders, thus focussing the viewer's attention on the image of Her Majesty as a symbol of royal power; the public face and figurehead of the Royal House of Windsor.
In this year of the Platinum Jubilee, we are delighted to be offering a unique version of this screenprint outside the standard edition, which can be regarded as truly iconic, both in subject and within the Warhol repertoire.