A new official portrait of Her Majesty The Queen, painted by Australian-born, London-based artist Ralph Heimans was today unveiled by the Australian Governor-General Ms Quentin Bryce AC CVO at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, Australia. Entitled ‘The Coronation Theatre, Westminster Abbey: A Portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’, the work is on display at the National Portrait Gallery until March 2013 as part of a new display celebrating The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
This ambitious and large-scale (9 x 11ft) new work depicts Her Majesty in a unique and highly symbolic setting – the Sacrarium of Westminster Abbey, also known as ‘The Coronation Theatre’. This setting is particularly poignant in the lead up to the 60th anniversary of Her Coronation on 2nd June 2013.
Commenting on the work, artist Ralph Heimans said: “Through the narrative of the portrait I wanted to produce a work of particular significance for the Diamond Jubilee. By representing The Queen as she reflects on this incredible milestone in her life, I wanted to explore the dynamic between Her public role and the personal, emotional dimension.”
Heimans’ sitting with The Queen took place at Buckingham Palace on 21 March 2012, but the scene is an imagined one, set at night in Westminster Abbey. The work depicts Her Majesty in a moment of solitary reflection, standing at the centre circle of the Cosmati pavement, on the exact spot where she was crowned nearly 60 years ago. The pavement is rich in symbolism, and, according to its inscription, was created to reveal the “eternal pattern of the universe”. It has been an integral part of the coronation ceremony since it was commissioned by Henry III in the 13th century and is the spot where every English monarch has been crowned for the last 900 years. The floor was covered for approximately 150 years and has only recently been restored.
The Queen is pictured wearing a State Dress beneath the crimson velvet Robe of State, which She wore to Her 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.
Heimans’ portrait will be on display in Canberra until the end of March 2013. The work will then return to London where it will be displayed in the run up to the 60th anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation on 2nd June 2013.
Ralph Heimans, The Coronation Theatre, Westminster Abbey: A Portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 2012
Oil on Canvas © The Artist