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Sir Herbert James Gunn (1893-1964)

Queen Elizabeth II in Coronation Robes c. 1953-56

Oil on canvas | 244.5 x 152.9 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external) | RCIN 404386

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This painting is part of a long tradition of formal portraiture of new monarchs in their Coronation clothes, often referred to as ‘State Portraits’. The Queen is depicted wearing her Coronation gown and the Robe of Estate, the Diamond Diadem and the diamond Coronation Necklace and Earrings. On the table beside her is the Imperial State Crown and she holds the Sovereign’s Sceptre. The Queen is depicted standing in the Throne Room at Buckingham Palace, in front of the Chair of Estate, one of the chairs used during the Coronation ceremony, with the exquisitely embroidered Robe of Estate shown to full effect over the arm of the chair. Gunn was allowed to have the Coronation Gown in his studio in order to paint it as accurately as possible.

This portrait was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1955 an event which was widely documented in the press. The Royal Collection also holds a preparatory pencil study by Gunn demonstrating how he worked up his ideas for the composition of this portrait. It reveals that during the process of creating the painting, a change in the articulation of The Queen’s right arm made the connection between the figure of the Sovereign and the Regalia on the table more obvious. The Diamond Diadem was added later by the artist, once he had shown the unfinished portrait to The Queen.