Andy Warhol - Editions & Works on Paper New York Monday, October 24, 2022 | Phillips

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  • "I want to be as famous as the Queen of England."
    —Andy Warhol
    In 1985, Andy Warhol turned his attention to royalty and created Reigning Queens, the artist’s largest screenprint portfolio containing four color variants of each Queen for a total of sixteen screenprints. The set depicts the four reigning female monarchs of the day, each of whom assumed the throne through birthright alone, rather than by marriage: Queen Elizabeth II of England, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, and Queen Ntombi Twala of Swaziland. Warhol produced two editions of the portfolio in various colorways: 30 ‘Royal Edition’ prints and 40 ‘Standard Edition prints. The Royal Edition prints were adorned with ‘diamond dust,’ fine particles of ground up glass that sparkle in the light like diamonds. The glamour of these special Royal Edition prints only heightens the regal allure of these iconic figures who exist as symbols of female royal power. 

    The King of Pop based his screenprint of Queen Elizabeth II on a photograph taken by Peter Grugeon at Windsor Castle in 1975 and released in 1977 for her Silver Jubilee. Dressed in the Vladimir tiara, Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee necklace, Queen Alexandra’s wedding earrings, and King George VI’s Family Order pinned to the Garter sash, Warhol’s subject is adorned with her heritage. Grugeon’s portrait of the Queen has become one of her most well-known images, used globally from currency to postage stamps. This widespread reproduction of the Queen’s image directly connects to Warhol’s fascination with mass replication and consumption of celebrity imagery. Warhol applied his Pop aesthetic to a traditional state portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, stylizing her face with graphic lines and flat blocks of colors. The hot pink background matches the Queen’s Silver Jubilee celebratory garb of pink dress, coat, and hat. Adding a touch of fluorescence, Warhol modernizes Her Majesty in fuchsia, merging her past and present in an image worthy of her legacy. 

    Celebrating seventy years of service to the people of Great Britain and the Commonwealth, 2022 marks Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee - the first British monarch to achieve this milestone. In 2012, to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee of sixty years on the throne, the Royal Collection acquired the four portraits of Queen Elizabeth II in the varying colorways from Warhol’s Reigning Queens (Royal Edition). This set of four works are the only portraits in the Royal Collection for which the Queen did not sit. Upon the completion of the portfolio, Sir William Heseltine, the Queen’s private secretary, wrote to George Mulder, Warhol’s European dealer, to acknowledge that Queen Elizabeth II was “most pleased and interested to see” the portraits.


    Derek Hudson, Andy Warhol holding a screenprint of Queen Elizabeth II in his studio, The Factory New York, 1985. Image © Derek HudsonGetty Images, Art.jpg
    Derek Hudson, Andy Warhol holding a screenprint of Queen Elizabeth II in his studio, The Factory New York, 1985. Image © Derek HudsonGetty Images
    • Literature

      Frayda Feldman and Jörg Schellmann 336A

    • Artist Biography

      Andy Warhol

      American • 1928 - 1987

      Andy Warhol was the leading exponent of the Pop Art movement in the U.S. in the 1960s. Following an early career as a commercial illustrator, Warhol achieved fame with his revolutionary series of silkscreened prints and paintings of familiar objects, such as Campbell's soup tins, and celebrities, such as Marilyn Monroe. Obsessed with popular culture, celebrity and advertising, Warhol created his slick, seemingly mass-produced images of everyday subject matter from his famed Factory studio in New York City. His use of mechanical methods of reproduction, notably the commercial technique of silk screening, wholly revolutionized art-making.

      Working as an artist, but also director and producer, Warhol produced a number of avant-garde films in addition to managing the experimental rock band The Velvet Underground and founding Interview magazine. A central figure in the New York art scene until his untimely death in 1987, Warhol was notably also a mentor to such artists as Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat.


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Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, from Reigning Queens (Royal Edition) (F. & S. 336A)

Screenprint in colors with diamond dust, on Lenox Museum Board, the full sheet.
S. 39 3/8 x 31 1/2 in. (100 x 80 cm)
Signed and numbered 'R 30/30' in pencil (there were also 5 artist's proofs), published by George C. P. Mulder, Amsterdam (with the artist's copyright inkstamp on the reverse), framed.

Full Cataloguing

$200,000 - 300,000 

Sold for $352,800

Contact Specialist

212 940 1220

Editions & Works on Paper

New York Auction 24 - 26 October 2022