“I want to be as Famous as the Queen of England” – Warhol


Thanks to her strong character,the impeccable pastel outfits and passion for Corgies, the Queen has always aroused great interest and fascination with the art world: artists have represented her according to their own language.

All the times Queen Elizabeth II has been the star of Pop Culture.

Everything has been said about the longest-lived Sovereign ever: style icon, avant-garde, with a strong personality.

Thanks to her strong character,the impeccable pastel outfits and passion for Corgies, the Queen has always aroused great interest and fascination with the art world: artists have represented her according to their own language; some have managed to immortalize her as an icon of Pop Art, Punk music, or in a moment of extreme calm, with her eyes closed and her tiara on.

As Andy Warhol said in a famous interview:

“I want to be more famous than the Queen of England.”

Discover the 10 most iconic modern and contemporary artworks dedicated to her.

“The Queen” Gerald Scarfe – 1970.

A cartoonist’s portrait could only be ironic. This illustration of the queen represents the first true caricature to become famous and is on display in the print and drawing room of London’s Tate Britain, which can be visited by appointment only.

Her features were deliberately exaggerated by the political caricaturist as HM is shown clutching her iconic handbag, decorated with the Union Jack.

“God Save the Queen” Jamie Reid – 1977

Jamie Reid is a British artist best known for his work using collage and decoupage techniques on Sex Pistols albums, including the celebrated “God Save the Queen” cover.

The cover of “God Save the Queen” helped define the aesthetics of the British punk movement, thanks to the iconic B&W image of the Queen with her eyes and mouth covered by fragments of anonymous letters.

The iconoclastic distortion of the image entered permanently into the Punk Subculture, first, and nationalistic and Pop Culture, later.

“Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom” Andy Warhol – 1985.

This vibrant work comes from a series Andy Warhol created in 1985, entitled Reigning Queens, which also included three other female monarchs: Queen Margarethe of Denmark, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, and Queen Ntombi of Swaziland.

Using a 1977 photographic portrait of Her Majesty’s Silver Jubilee, Warhol employed the same style and technique he had used since the mid-1970s to immortalize movie stars from Marilyn Monroe to Elizabeth Taylor, portraying the queen in four different color fields.

“Queen Elizabeth II” Michael Leonard – 1985

This simple portrait of the Queen with one of her inseparable Corgies is set in the Yellow Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace.

It was commissioned by Reader’s Digest on the occasion of the Queen’s 60th birthday; the Canadian artist commented on the stylistic choice of his work thus:

“A simple, informal portrait that tends to minimize the social distance due to her Majesty’s position with ordinary people.”

“The Queen” Justin Mortimer – 1997

One of the most unique representations of Her Majesty was executed by Justin Mortimer, who in 1997 depicted her “disheveled,” dressed in green, on a bright yellow background.

The work was commissioned and exhibited by the Royal Society of Arts during one of the Kingdom’s and the Queen’s most difficult times: just after Lady Diana’s death.

The artist, then 27 years old, could only represent her in a bold, thoroughly contemporary way.

“Dreams and Nightmares of the Queen” George Condo – 2006.

When George Condo presented his canvas to the world, many of Her Majesty’s subjects were outraged at the incredible resemblance to the “Cabbage Patch Dolls,” famous American rag dolls with chubby faces and good-natured expressions; in fact, the American artist took inspiration for this portrait from the Spanish painter Velázquez, although it may not seem obvious.

It has been on display at the Tate Modern Gallery since 2006.

“The Queen at William Hill” Alison Jackson – 2010

Alison Jackson‘s 2010 photograph is an ironic take on the Queen’s love of horse racing.

Often photographed cheering at her horses’ races at Royal Ascot, the Queen had over a hundred examples, many of them award-winning. So where else could the monarch, complete with corgis in tow, go to place a bet but to the good William Hill?

“Queen Ziggy” Banksy – 2012.

As the whole Kingdom celebrated the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee; a black-and-white stancyl by Banksy mysteriously appeared on a wall in Upper Mudlin Street in Bristol.

The tribute depicted the monarch with the imposing crown and a jagged lightning bolt in red and blue across her face, much like David Bowie‘s iconic lightning bolt in the Ziggy Stardust character.

“Lightness of Being” Chris Levine – 2014.

One of the most iconic portraits of Queen Elizabeth depicts her with her eyes closed, in a cathartic expression of relaxation and gentleness, yet the famous “Lightness of Being” was born by accident.

In 2004, the Jersey Heritage Trust commissioned the British artist to paint a portrait of the queen. To make one as authentic as possible, he used a complex 360-degree camera system that captured the Queen at every angle and in whatever light.

While the system was resetting, Levine suggested that her Majesty rest her eyes for a while: duante those seconds, she is captured in all her spontaneity and relaxation.

“The Queen Elizabeth” Maria De Campos – 2022

One of the last portraits before her death belongs to Maria De Campos.

Using the technique of collage and décupage, the Portuguese artist “covered” a photo of the queen at the beginning of her regency with newspaper cuts, spray-painted lettering and graffiti.

The iconic tiara carries a fundamental message that has characterized her reign and her imposing personality: “No to Sexism.”



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