Another famous Elizabeth, Another Ugly Portrait
Few women in the world have been depicted as often as the current Queen of England, Elizabeth II. And unfortunately, she hasn’t fared particularly well in the ugly portrait department either. In 2000, the long-reigning monarch agreed to be painted by the late Lucian Freud, a British painter who throughout his career has earned wide respect both at home and abroad. This particular painter is extremely talented – that is worth noting here. So, in reality, the painting itself is not that bad. But something about the lighting and the fact that it took over a year and a half to produce this 9″ by 6″ portrait doesn’t sit right with us. While this masterful painter should not be discredited, this was not a flattering portrait of Elizabeth II. She sat for this portrait on various occasions between May 2000 and December 2001.
It’s worth stressing here that just because it’s unflattering doesn’t necessarily make it a terrible portrait. Lucian Freud is ranked among Britain’s finest figurative painters. It might not be flattering, but it certainly captures the weariness that must come with the amount of experience Elizabeth has had during her decades in office. Praise was forthcoming from The Times‘ art critic Richard Cork, who described the finished piece as, “painful, brave, honest, stoical and above all clear-sighted.” The Sun and its traditionally monarchical readership gave it an ice-cold reception, however; its Royal Photographer, Arthur Edwards, calling for pitchforks at dawn in writing, “Freud should be locked in the Tower for this.” Having said that, The Sun is mainly famous for its topless “Page Three Girls”, so let’s hold judgment on what they have to say shall we.