Andy Warhol - Evening & Day Editions London Thursday, September 21, 2023 | Phillips
  •  “I want to be as famous as The Queen of England.”
    —Andy Warhol

    In 1985, the American Pop artist Andy Warhol turned his attention to royalty and embarked on his largest portfolio of screenprints, entitled the Reigning Queens series. Featuring Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth , Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and Queen Ntfombi Tfwala of Swaziland, the series paid homage to the four female monarchs who ruled at the time, having all assumed their respective thrones through birthright alone. In depicting some of the world’s most recognised female figures and appropriating their most widely-circulated images, the series encapsulates Warhol’s fascination with fame, mass-media and consumer culture. 


    [Left] George Gower, Elizabeth I (Armada Portrait), c. 1588, Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire. Image: Bridgeman Images 
    [Right] H.M. Queen Elizabeth II. Cigarette Card. New York Public Library.


    Warhol’s portrait of Queen Elizabeth II adds to an extensive lineage of royal portraiture, most often featuring monarchs bedecked with regalia. In keeping with this, Warhol used the Queen’s official Silver Jubilee portrait for his series, which was a photograph taken by Peter Grugeon at Winsor Castle in 1975 and released in 1977. 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 her Garter sash, Warhol’s subject is adorned with her heritage. Grugeon’s portrait is one of the most recognisable images of Queen Elizabeth and it has been endlessly circulated on currency and postage stamps, as well as in the media and various commemorative merchandise. This widespread reproduction of the Queen’s image directly connects to Warhol’s fascination with mass replication and consumption of celebrity imagery. Warhol combines Grugeon’s traditional state portrait of Queen Elizabeth II – steeped in centuries of British history – with his iconic Pop aesthetic. Stylised with bold lines, bright colours and flat, graphic form, Warhol’s portrait is as much a portrait of the monarch as it is of late-twentieth-century pop culture.

    The screenprints were created using a photographic silkscreen technique that was central to Warhol’s practice and employed profusely in both his prints and paintings. The total screenprint portfolio consists of four colour variants of each queen, amounting to sixteen images in total. Warhol produced two editions of the Reigning Queens portfolio: forty ‘Standard Edition’ prints and thirty ‘Royal Edition’ prints. The present lot is from the ‘Royal Edition’ and therefore is adorned with ‘diamond dust’ – fine particles of ground up glass that sparkle in the light like diamonds – adding glamour and extravagance to the portrait and further emphasising the fame and regal allure of this iconic sitter. 

    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” Warhol’s portraits of her. Attesting to the importance of this modernised portrait of the Queen, the Royal Collection Trust purchased all four colourways of her likeness from the ‘Royal Edition’ in 2012.

    • Provenance

      Jaski Art Gallery, Amsterdam
      Acquired directly from the above by the present owner in 2000

    • Literature

      Frayda Feldman and Jörg Schellmann 334A

    • 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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Property From a Private Dutch Collection


Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, from Reigning Queens (Royal Edition) (F & S. 334A)

Screenprint in colours with diamond dust, on Lenox Museum Board, the full sheet.
S. 100.2 x 80.1 cm (39 1/2 x 31 1/2 in.)
Signed and numbered 'R 15/30' in pencil (there were also 5 artist's proofs), with the artist's copyright inkstamp on the reverse, published by George C.P. Mulder, Amsterdam, framed.

Full Cataloguing

£120,000 - 180,000 

Sold for £260,350

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Evening & Day Editions

London Auction 21 - 22 September 2023