A portrait of Her Majesty The Queen depicted standing on the Cosmati pavement in Westminster Abbey will go on public display for the first time in London as part of the Abbey’s celebrations for the 60th anniversary of The Queen’s coronation.
In a rare act of acquisition, Westminster Abbey has acquired the painting: The Coronation Theatre: Portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by Australian-born London-based artist Ralph Heimans for its collection.
The ambitious and large-scale, 9 x 11ft, painting (oil on canvas) depicts The Queen in a unique and highly symbolic setting - the Sacrarium of Westminster Abbey, sometimes described as ‘The Coronation Theatre’. It is an imagined scene set at night in Westminster Abbey showing The Queen in a moment of solitary reflection and is an exceptional interpretation of the intricate mosaic patterns of the 13th century Cosmati pavement. The Queen is pictured wearing State Dress, including the crimson velvet Robe of State, which she wore to Her Coronation on 2nd June 1953.
The painting was officially unveiled in London in 2012 for the Diamond Jubilee and exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra until the end of March 2013.
The Very Reverend Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster said: “The Queen's Diamond Jubilee portrait by Ralph Heimans speaks powerfully of the moment of Her Majesty's anointing and coronation 60 years ago that we are celebrating this year. The Queen in the glorious space of the Abbey standing at the very place where she committed herself to God and her people reflects powerfully on the years of service. I am delighted that this portrait will help countless numbers of future visitors to the Abbey to celebrate and give thanks for this remarkable reign.”
Ralph Heimans said: I could not have imagined a more fitting home for my portrait of The Queen than Westminster Abbey, the beauty of which was a great source of inspiration in the conception of the work. I am deeply honoured by this acquisition and feel that the significance of the portrait's narrative will have its strongest resonance in this remarkable setting.
Ralph Heimans, renowned for his portraits, was born and educated in Sydney and now lives and works in London. www.ralphheimans.com
The purchase of the painting by Westminster Abbey has been made possible by the generosity of The Lord and Lady Harris of Peckham.
The public can view the painting in the Chapter House at Westminster Abbey from Thursday 23rd May at 2.00pm. It will remain on display until Friday 27th September. Open daily: Monday – Saturday, 10.30am – 4.00pm and Sunday, 10.00am – 3.00pm. Admission to the Chapter House is free though normal admission charges apply to Westminster Abbey.