Queen Elizabeth: Photography by Annie Leibovitz
This is the atmospheric picture of Queen Elizabeth taken by Annie Leibovitz in the opulent White Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace. The Queen’s pale gold brocade dress, white fur stole and magnificent collection of jewelery emphasize her status, the diamond tiara was a wedding present for her grandmother, Queen Mary, while her pearl drop earrings were given to Queen Victoria when she was 19.
The way in which she gazes wistfully out of the window across the palace gardens, however, hints at a gentler, more fallible side. That essence of humanity is emphasized by the atmospheric lighting and storm clouds gathering outside. Of her photograph, which was commissioned to mark the Queen’s upcoming six-day trip to the United States, Leibovitz stated, “I feel like it’s a documentation and I wanted to take a very simple portrait.”
London Times describes the portrait today:
“An almost ethereal figure, the Queen sits musing amid the sombre splendour of rooms. The mirrors and chandeliers, the patterned carpets and gleaming gilt cut a strong contrast to the natural parkland over which she gazes.
The simple rural pleasures and stately responsibilities of this woman are both represented in this image. A thundery sky casts a lowering light, which picks out a look of quiet determination and plays on the sparkle of jewels. But all around darker shadows seep. Leibovitz uses a Romantic cliché with dramatic effect to evoke the tempestuous times that the Queen has weathered.
But what is she thinking? It is the impenetrability of the sitter’s face that most strikes the viewer. This is a portrait which keeps the viewer at a formal distance.
The soul of this picture is the soul of tradition.”
Annie Leibovitz Taking the Portrait of Queen Elizabeth
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