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King Charles: unveiling of the first official portrait since the coronation, painted by Jonathan Yeo

  • By Katie Razzall
  • Culture and media editor

Image source, Jonathan Yeo Studio

Legend, Yeo says the butterfly near the king’s shoulder symbolizes “the beauty of nature and highlights (the king’s) environmental causes”

The first official painted portrait of King Charles III since his coronation has been unveiled at Buckingham Palace.

The vast oil on canvas shows a larger-than-life King Charles in the uniform of the Welsh Guards.

The bright red work, measuring approximately 8ft 6in by 6ft 6in, is by Jonathan Yeo, who also painted Tony Blair, Sir David Attenborough and Malala Yousafzai.

Queen Camilla reportedly looked at the painting and said to Yeo: “Yes, you have it.”

In the new portrait, the king is depicted, sword in hand, with a butterfly resting on his shoulder.

Reveals are always a little nerve-racking, for both the model and the artist, but especially when one of them is a king.

Yeo jokes: “If this were considered treason, I could literally pay with my head, which would be a fitting way for a portrait painter to die – to have his head removed!” »

In reality, Yeo isn’t going to lose his mind of course – no executions for a poorly received portrait of a monarch, at least in modern times.

Image source, Frank Augstein/AFP via Getty Images

Legend, A portrait by Ralph Heimans of the Prince of Wales as he then was was unveiled at Australia House in London in 2018.

Luckily, he’s also already received the endorsement of a key royal figure.

The Queen stopped by during the final session and declared that the artist had captured the King well. Yeo says the best judge of a portrait is someone who knows your sitter very well because they instantly know if it looks familiar.

The king also got a glimpse of it, Yeo says, in its “half-baked state…He was at first slightly surprised by the strong color, but otherwise he seemed to smile approvingly.”

It’s a vibrant painting.

The King was appointed a Regimental Colonel of the Welsh Guards in 1975. In the photo, the red of the uniform fades against the red background, highlighting the King’s face even more.

Yeo says he wanted the painting to be distinctive and a break from the past. He was aiming for something personal.

“What I’m really interested in is finding out who someone is and trying to put that on a canvas.”

Yeo decided to use some of the traditions of royal portraiture – the military attire, the sword – but sought to achieve something more modern, notably with the deep color and the butterfly.

He says he is referring to the tradition of official royal portraits, but suggests it is something “of the past and what is interesting about them is something a little different to that”.

“In art history, the butterfly symbolizes metamorphosis and rebirth,” he explains, which is fitting for the painted portrait of a recently ascended monarch.

The butterfly also refers to the king’s long-standing interest in the environment, causes “he championed for most of his life and certainly long before they became a mainstream conversation.”

Yeo says it was Charles’ idea after talking about the opportunity they had to tell a story with the portrait.

“I said: When schoolchildren look at this in 200 years and they look at the who’s who of monarchs, what clues can you give them?

“He said ‘what if a butterfly landed on my shoulder?'”.

Yeo began the portrait while Charles was still Prince of Wales, with the first session at Highgrove in June 2021.

Image source, Jonathan Yeo Studio

Legend, Jonathan Yeo’s signature style is to place more emphasis on capturing the character and essence of the model.

The king sat four times in total, for about an hour at a time, with the last sitting taking place at Clarence House in November 2023. Did the artist notice an obvious change in the man after did he become king?

Yeo says he has spotted “a physical change” in the politicians he has painted in the past. “They look and feel physically different when they are in high office or not.”

Yeo adds that the king “had already grown in presence and stature by the time I started it, and that increased another level when he became king, as you would expect.”

The sessions ended before the king’s cancer was diagnosed. He had a lot on his plate, Yeo said, with an upcoming speech at the COP summit, but “didn’t seem like someone physically exhausted.”

He was “in a good mood,” adds the painter.

King Charles posed in his full Welsh Guards uniform and had to stand leaning on his sword for around 40 minutes each time.

Image source, Shutterstock

Legend, Prince Charles was appointed regimental colonel of the Welsh Guards in the 1970s.

“He stayed incredibly still and didn’t get distracted like some models do.”

Yeo won’t reveal much about what they talked about during the sessions, although he says Charles III has “a great sense of humor” and is a “very engaging person.”

His interest in art meant Charles wanted to discuss the process of creating the work and the brushes used. They also talked about “how he learned to paint and some of the pictures hanging on the walls.”

But Yeo says “there is a sacredness to the portraiture process.” Your guardians “have to believe that what’s happening is happening between the two of you, because that way I think they feel more comfortable opening up.”

In the past, royal portraits played an important role in signifying power and projecting an image. They were part of the tools used to ensure the survival of the monarch. Among the most memorable are Henry VIII by Hans Holbein the Younger. The Tudor king employed Holbein as court artist, although only two portraits survive.

Image source, Getty Images

Legend, This famous portrait of Henry VIII was painted by Hans Holbein the Younger in 1536-1537

But Yeo says our relationship with royalty has changed since that time.

“On the one hand, we know that these are real people with quirks and personality traits. We’ve seen a lot more of them. On the other hand, we still want to adhere to the mysticism and fairy tale that they are. different from us, that there is a bit of magic in that.”

In his portrait, he was “trying to figure out how to do both at once.”

Painting a portrait that size was “quite an operation,” Yeo says. After using his first sessions with the king for photographs and sketches, he completed the bulk of the painting between the third and fourth sessions.

He then had to hire a truck to transport the canvas and its equipment to Clarence House for the last time he saw the king.

In addition to the easel, painting tables, and light fixtures, they had to “cover all the rugs with sheets so as not to damage these priceless rugs.”

Yeo also brought “a slide, a sort of platform, that I can stand on so that I’m high enough to paint his face and one that he can stand on so that he’s also level.”

The artist claims to have not previously been interested in the “rigid formality” of royal portraiture. But at the age of 50, he began to reflect on the fact that “we need to see how we compare to the works of the past.”

The portrait was commissioned by the Drapers’ Company, the City of London livery company which has collected royal portraits for centuries.

His painting will go on display at Drapers’ Hall in London, surrounded by “a dozen other fabulous, equally immense portraits of Queen Victoria and various other kings and queens”.

Image source, Getty Images

Legend, This portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by Sergei Pavlenko was unveiled at Drapers’ Hall in 2000.

For him, painting Charles III was different from most previous commissions, where one started from scratch.

“All my life I had known who he was and what he looked like, so it was just a matter of deciding what to show and trying to slightly channel who he seems to be now.”

He deliberately minimized visual distractions in his portraiture to “allow people to connect with the human being underneath.”

There is a lot of sympathy for the king, Yeo adds. The portrait “reflects exactly who he is, everything he represents and what he experienced.”

The portrait will be on public display at the Philip Mold Gallery in London from May 16 to June 14. It will be on display at Drapers’ Hall from the end of August.

Gn entert
News Source : www.bbc.com

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