Ahead of Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, Sotheby’s London will auction and exhibit rare British royal ephemera in a month-long programme in London. Queen Elizabeth II is Britain’s longest-reigning monarch at the age of 96, having ascended to the throne in 1953.
As part of the programming, Sotheby’s will hold a sale entirely dedicated to celebrating the very best of British art, including a new unique work of Queen Elizabeth II donated by Chris Levine, who works in the field of light art.
“Britain has long been known for its creativity and the queen has been at the helm of this throughout her reign—both as custodian of a world-class collection, and the inspiration for artists, designers and more,” said Frances Christie, Deputy chairman of Sotheby’s, in a statement.
Sotheby’s will also showcase a specially curated collection of the nation’s art, design, and literature in their galleries. This mammoth exhibition assembles historic and contemporary royal portraits, visually tracing the fascinating history of the British monarchy. On display will be Queen Elizabeth I’s (1533-1603) iconic Armada portrait, on loan from Woburn Abbey, and Andy Warhol’s (1928-1987) vibrant silkscreen of Queen Elizabeth II, produced as part of the artist’s Reigning Queens series in 1985. There are also some more macabre objects on show, including a death warrant for Thomas Percy, seventh Earl of Northumberland, signed by Elizabeth I.
A glittering highlight at the heart of the exhibition is undoubtedly the collection of 50 diadems, which map the evolution of tiara design from the 1830s. Created in the 1830s, a classically inspired diadem encrusted with sparkling diamonds echoes the shape of a laurel wreath, a style brought back into fashion by none other than Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) and Empress Joséphine (1763-1814). Another spectacular piece is a Van Cleef & Arpels tiara produced in the 1960s, which is set with huge turquoise gemstones.
The nation has been celebrating the Queen’s 70 years on the throne in a myriad of ways, from a limited-edition Barbie doll of the monarch to the Royal Mint’s £5 coin that depicts her on horseback, design by artist John Bergdahl. Sotheby’s “British Art: The Jubilee Auction” will take place on 29 June 2022 and the exhibition “Royal Portraits & Manuscripts” will run from 28 May to 15 June 2022.