Michael Noake's Portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother
In this film, Philip explores the extraordinary humanity in the present portrait of the Queen Mother. As contemporary viewers who regularly observe the Royal Family through the lens of official, polished photographs, it is enriching to view a painting which centres humanity and intimate kindness at the heart of British Royalty. This honest depiction highlights the subject’s warmth and demonstrates the compassion that the esteemed Queen Mother had for those around her.
British artist Michael Noakes was intimately acquainted with the royal family, which granted him extended sittings with his royal subjects. An earlier sketch of the Queen Mother is now in the collection of the Prince of Wales, who praised Noakes’ ability to capture ‘the essence of [his] Grandmother’s personality’. His loose technique and masterful employment of tonality not only capture the personality of the sitter, but liberate her character from the picture plane, the bright blue of her clothing allowing her to radiate from the canvas.
However, it is the reverse of this painting which hides an equally interesting revelation... Noakes was a meticulous archivist of his own work, and the verso of this painting is filled with notes of its provenance: every exhibition in which it has featured, houses in which it has hung, and the notable individuals who have viewed it. Here, the artist’s written notes on the back of the canvas serve as a testament to the painting’s success.