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A Signed Coronation Portrait of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II, 1953
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A Signed Coronation Portrait of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II, 1953

Measurements: Overall: 32cm (12.5in) x 22.5cm (8.9in)

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Sir Cecil Beaton’s official Coronation portrait depicts the Queen seated against a painted backdrop of the fan vaulted ceiling of the Henry VII chapel adorned with the knights’ banners of the Order of the Bath in Westminster Abbey. It was taken at Buckingham Palace after the Royal Family returned from the Abbey on Coronation Day (2 June) 1953. In rejecting the 1911 and 1937 coronation portrait formats shot against the backdrop of Palace interiors, Beaton introduced a theatricality and glamour that emphasized Winston Churchill’s perception of the Queen as ‘The gleaming figure whom Providence has brought to us in times when the present is hard and the future veiled’.

The Queen is wearing the Coronation gown designed by Norman Hartnell and the crimson velvet Robe Royal, the Imperial State Crown, the Armills (bracelets), and holds the Sceptre with the Cross and the Sovereign’s Orb. Signed and dated in the lower mount in ink in the Queen’s hand and lower left in pencil by Beaton. Contained in a presentation, easel backed, navy blue leather frame with arched top bearing the EIIR cypher by Royal Warrant holder H.H. Plante, of Bury Street, St. James’s, London. Glazed.

Sir Cecil Beaton, C.B.E. (1904-80) ranks amongst the most important photographers of the 20th century, and is best known for his fashion photographs and society portraits. He worked as a staff photographer for Vanity Fair and Vogue in addition to photographing celebrities in Hollywood. He was further acclaimed as a stage and screen costume and set designer on both sides of the Atlantic, earning himself Academy Awards in 1958 and 1968. He was educated at Heath Mount School (where he was bullied by Evelyn Waugh), at Harrow and St John’s College Cambridge. Having rejected the security of paid employment in his family’s timber business, he joined Vogue in 1927 and set up his own studio. One of his earliest clients was the flamboyant society figure Stephen Tennant. Beaton's photographs of Tennant and his circle are considered some of the best representations of the Bright Young People of the twenties and thirties. During the Second World War he was employed by the Ministry of Information and produced influential images of the war on the home front. Beaton often photographed the Royal Family for official publication. Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother was reportedly his favourite Royal sitter.


 

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