Reigning Queens

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Reigning Queens is a 1985 series of silkscreen portraits by the artist Andy Warhol of Queens regnant.

The screenprints were presented as a portfolio of sixteen; of four prints each of the four individual monarchs. The subjects were Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, Queen Ntombi Twala of Swaziland and Queen Margrethe II of Denmark. The images used by Warhol that to make the screenprints were derived from official photographs. The images were then overlaid with Warhol's trademark abstract blocks of colour. Separate printed elements were used by Warhol to highlight jewellery.[1] The portrait of Queen Elizabeth II was based on the official photograph released for her Silver Jubilee in 1977, taken by Peter Grugeon at Windsor Castle on 2 April 1975. The British Royal Collection wrote in a description that "Warhol has simplified Grugeon's portrait so that all that remains is a mask-like face. All character has been removed and we are confronted by a symbol of royal power".[2]

A separate 'Royal edition' was issued of the portfolio; with the portraits featuring diamond dust or 'ground up glass' applied to the portrait when wet. Tate Galleries described the dust as having "a sparkly, extravagant effect". 30 sets of the Royal edition were produced.[1] Time wrote that Warhol's portraits of Elizabeth II "treat her like any other celebrity, frozen in time and bright colours".[3]

Alfredo Jaar felt the series was a "monument to kitsch" in a 2012 interview for the book Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years.[4] Anthony Haden-Guest wrote that the series "had been correctly seen as a shameless assault on the rich kitsch market" in his 1998 book True Colors: The Real Life of the Art World.[5]

A print from the 'Royal Edition' of Queen Elizabeth II from the Reigning Queens series was acquired by the Royal Collection of the British royal family in 2012. The print is the only one in the Royal Collection that Elizabeth did not sit for or commission. [2]


  1. ^ a b "Tate: Andy Warhol: Reigning Queens". TATE. TATE. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  2. ^ a b "RCN507013 Andy Warhol: Reigning Queens". Royal Collection Trust. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  3. ^ The Editors of TIME, ed. (25 May 2018). TIME Queen Elizabeth II. Time Home Entertainment. p. 122. ISBN 978-1-5478-4268-1.
  4. ^ Mark Lawrence Rosenthal; Marla Prather; Ian Alteveer (2012). Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years. Metropolitan Museum of Art. p. 178. ISBN 978-1-58839-469-9.
  5. ^ Anthony Haden-Guest (1998). True Colors: The Real Life of the Art World. Atlantic Monthly Press. p. 153. ISBN 978-0-87113-725-8.