George VI and Queen Elizabeth - A Pair of Royal Presentation Portrait Photographs, 1943
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Each overall: 26cm (10in) x 18cm (7in)
Provenance: Major T.D. Williams, Master of the Household's Department at Buckingham Palace
A wartime pair of quarter length autographed signed portraits of George VI and Queen Elizabeth. The King depicted the uniform of an Admiral of the Fleet; the Queen in state dress and wearing Queen Mary’s Fringe Tiara, the Royal Family Order of George VI, and the insignia of the Imperial Order of the Crown of India. The King's portrait signed to the lower mount - George R.[ex] I.[mperator] by the sitter and bearing the trade label of royal photographer Dorothy Wilding verso. The Queen’s portrait signed and dated by the sitter ‘Elizabeth R[egina] 1943’. Each contained in blue morocco easel backed presentation glazed frames, respectively embossed with gilt ‘GVIR’ and ‘ER’ cyphers.
Major Thomas Daniel Williams, M.V.O., D.C.M., I.S.O., was Superintendent, The Master of the Household's Department at Buckingham Palace during the Second World War. As such he was responsible for official and private entertaining, as well as catering and housekeeping. He was made L.V.O. in 1933. He was also a platoon commander in the Buckingham Palace Home Guard. In August 1941 he received the King’s commendation for brave conduct for an unspecified act. The Dundee Courier however noted ‘Major Williams was in the Palace when it was dive bombed last winter and that he organised the Palace’s Air Raid precautions’. On his retirement in 1943 and was made a Companion of the Imperial Service Order (I.S.O.) in the 1943 Birthday Honours List.
Dorothy Wilding (1893-1976) established her studio in 1929 in Bond Street, London, where she photographed members of the Royal Family, society figures and film and theatrical stars. She was responsible for the double portrait of George VI and Queen Elizabeth that was subsequently adapted for the 1937 Coronation issue postage stamp. The same portrait also led to the award of her Royal Warrant. Wilding’s relationship with the Royal family, as their favoured photographer, continued until her retirement in 1958. Her autobiography In Pursuit of Perfection was published that year. Her surviving archives were presented to the National Portrait Gallery in 1976 and formed the basis of a major N.P.G. retrospective exhibition and catalogue in 1991 also entitled ‘The Pursuit of Perfection’.