Many people are of the opinion that the most reproduced artwork in the world is that of the Mona Lisa. However, that honour is held by Queen Elizabeth II and the artist who first pictured her was Arnold Machin. Although he may not be as popular as some of the other artists, the last 45 years have witnessed 220 billion copies of his picture of the Queen, being used on postage stamps in Britain.
Coins in the UK have adorned the face of the Queen from the time she was introduced to the throne. She was also the face of banknotes in England from 1960, apart from being the face of other Commonwealth nations such as Caicos Islands, Canada, Gibraltar and Turks. Her face has been featured on currencies all over the world, more than any other person in history.
The National Portrait Gallery
The Queen and her portraits from the last 60 years have been displayed at a large exhibition in the the National Portrait Gallery or NGP. Based in London, the exhibition is titled, The Queen: Art and Image and concludes in mid-October. The curator of the exhibition, Paul Moorhouse said that the Queen’s image has been rendered in numerous ways in the past and the exhibition only displays a few of them. He also said that common people have formed numerous opinions of her based on these visual representations.
The Queen, a favourite of photographers
The public fascination with the Queen and royalty goes deeper than just stamps or currencies. For over half a century, she has been a fascination for artists, painters and photographers all over the world. She has even been the topic of many spoofs on television programmes including ‘Spitting Image’, a puppet show, ‘The Queen’ played by Helen Mirren for which she won numerous accolades including an Oscar for her stellar performance, and numerous cartoons for newspapers.
When the Queen was born, television was still in its experimental stages. Her popularity grew with paintings and photographs of her playing with her sister Margaret. The first ever painting of the Queen was when she was 7 years old. Today, she is known as the first mass-media monarch as she can be accessed through Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and television.