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Annie Leibovitz (born 1949)

‘I felt honoured. I also felt that because I was an American I had an advantage over every other photographer or painter who had made a portrait of her. It was OK for me to be reverent’ In 2007 Annie Leibovitz became the first American to make an official portrait of The Queen. The images were commissioned by the Royal Household to celebrate Her Majesty’s State Visit to the United States, which coincided with the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown. Leibovitz produced four photographs, three of which are displayed here. Influenced by iconic royal portraits from the past, particularly those by Cecil Beaton, Leibovitz’s photographs combine modern techniques with a sense of tradition. Best known as a portrait photographer for Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair, Leibovitz’s photographs are instantly recognisable for their glamour and high production values. The photographs of The Queen show the monarch resplendent in various combinations of jewels, orders, robes and furs in the White Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace. One photograph from the series differs, however. In the central image shown here, Leibovitz reinvents Cecil Beaton’s iconic image of The Queen wearing the boat cloak, made almost 40 years earlier in 1968. Leibovitz’s photograph of The Queen wearing the dark cloak was actually taken inside Buckingham Palace, during the same 25 minute sitting in which the other photographs were taken. Her image was later digitally superimposed against a photograph of the garden of Buckingham Palace which Leibovitz had taken on the previous day, creating an evocative portrait of The Queen.