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National Portrait Gallery to Unveil New Portrait Photograph of the Queen and Prince Philip
The Queen and Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh by Thomas Struth, 2011. ©Royal Household/Thomas Struth.

LONDON.- A major new portrait photograph of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh has been commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery, London, and unveiled as part of its touring exhibition The Queen: Art & Image, which opens on Saturday 25 June at the Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh.

The large-scale portrait shows The Queen and Prince Philip seated together in the Green Drawing Room at Windsor Castle. Commissioned to mark The Queen’s forthcoming Diamond Jubilee and in the year of the Duke’s ninetieth birthday, the photograph by the German artist Thomas Struth was taken on 7 April 2011.

Considered one of the world’s leading contemporary photographers, Struth worked with a large format plate camera, using natural light. The first double-portrait of The Queen and Prince Philip to be commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery, it is also the Gallery’s first commissioned portrait of The Queen since John Wonnacott’s royal family group painting of 2000.

The London gallery’s new commission means that the exhibition, which surveys 60 years of portraits of The Queen, can bring the story up to the present day. Among the highlights shown alongside the portrait in the exhibition will be Annigoni’s hugely popular life-size 1969 commission for the National Portrait Gallery, Lucian Freud’s 2000-01 portrait from the Royal Collection and Justin Mortimer’s controversial painting in which The Queen’s head appears to be separated from her body, set against a huge background of vibrant yellow. The Queen: Art & Image is the most wide-ranging exhibition of images in different media devoted to a single royal sitter.

Among the exhibited photographers for whom The Queen sat are Annie Leibovitz, Dorothy Wilding and Cecil Beaton – including his iconic Westminster Abbey Coronation image – and Chris Levine’s extraordinary holographic photograph from 2007 which shows The Queen with her eyes closed.

Paul Moorhouse, curator of The Queen: Art & Image, and the Gallery’s Curator of 20th Century Portraits, says: ‘Thomas Struth’s portrait is a sensitive evocation of individuals within a magnificent setting composed in terms of light, colour, textures and formal arrangements. It is also a subtle exploration of human relationships.’

Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, says: ‘Thomas Struth has created an outstanding new portrait of Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, that will happily contribute to the many celebrations of the Diamond Jubilee.’

James Holloway, Director of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, says: ‘I have no doubt that Thomas Struth’s impressive and tender portrait of Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh will be seen as one of the definitive images of the Royal Family. I am delighted that the Scottish National Gallery has been given the opportunity to show this stunning work for the very first time.’

The portrait is unveiled ahead of a major retrospective exhibition, Thomas Struth: Photographs 1978 – 2010, at the Whitechapel Gallery, London (6 July – 16 September 2011). The German artist is highly regarded for a compelling body of work, in formation since the late 1970s, which includes cityscapes, studies of visitors seen in the context of great museum collections, still-life subjects and, most significantly, sympathetic portraits of individuals, families and groups of sitters.

Thomas Struth, born in Geldern, Germany, in 1954, lives and works in Berlin and New York. He is one of a generation of fine art photographers who have come to international prominence today, including Cindy Sherman and Jeff Wall, and part of the pioneering group of artists including Andreas Gursky, Candida Höfer and Thomas Ruff who studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, Düsseldorf. Struth was taught by Gerhard Richter and Bernd and Hilla Becher at Düsseldorf. He recently had a major travelling retrospective in the USA that included the Dallas Museum of Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in 2002. From 1993–6 he was the first Professor of Photography at the newly founded Hochschule fur Gestaltung, Karlsruhe. He was awarded the Spectrum International Photography Prize, Stiftung Niedersachsen, Germany in 1997, and the Werner Mantz Prize for Photography, Maastricht, The Netherlands, 1992. He is currently visiting professor at Oxford University.
A touring exhibition organised by the National Portrait Gallery, London

Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh 25 June–18 September 2011
Ulster Museum, Belfast 14 October 2011–15 January 2012
National Museum Cardiff 4 February – 29 April 2012
National Portrait Gallery, London 17 May – 21 October 2012

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