Why are portraits of the Queen so bad?

May 30 2022

Image of Why are portraits of the Queen so bad?

Picture: Sunday Times

In the Sunday Times, the Great Waldemar looks back at the Queen's lifetime in portraits, and asks, why are they so bad?

The English monarchy has a decent record when it comes to commissioning paintings of itself. Henry VIII showed true perspicacity when he made Hans Holbein his court artist. It was Holbein who invented the extra-wide monarch without whom the Tudor industry of today would have had no monster to imagine. Elizabeth I may never have found a Holbein, but she did control a Tudor image machine that pumped out highly effective presentations of her as the Virgin Queen. Even as bad a king as George IV showed superior artistic taste when he got in Sir Thomas Lawrence to paint him.

The second Elizabeth has, alas, presided over a downturn in this story. Most of the painters she has turned to have come from that bleak institution: the Establishment School of Untalented Lackeys. The results have been bad likenesses or very uninteresting ones.

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