Queen's portrait painting unveiled in New Zealand

Queen¡¯s portrait painting unveiled in New Zealand

Prince William has unveiled a new portrait painting of his grandmother, the Queen.The unveiling took place at a state reception at Government House in Wellington.The painting, commissioned specially for the New Zealand Portrait Gallery, is by young Kiwi Nick Cuthell, a regular finalist in the biennial Adam Portrait Award, who spends his time between New Zealand and London. The Queen agreed to Cuthell¡¯s request that she wear a simple blue day dress, adorned by her New Zealand silver fern brooch which she has lent to Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, for her New Zealand tour. Kate wore it on her arrival in Wellington on Monday.

The portrait painting of the Queen took some months to complete, but Cuthell had just one hour to get what he needed from his subject. "I had one sitting with her of an hour, which is not long, but I gather it¡¯s about as long as you can get these days," he said. Most artists only get to work with photographs. "It¡¯s certainly better than having no time at all. It just makes such a difference to see a human being in space and light, with your eyes as opposed to a photograph."

He said the first five minutes were spent getting photographs of her in position but the Queen, who is now 87, had spent the morning standing through an investiture ceremony. 

Cuthell said the pair chatted throughout the sitting, but he did not give away any details of the conversation. Prince William and  Catherine unveiled the painting together, each pulling down a blue silk which covered the portrai. It was positioned next to a portrait of a  much younger Queen. 

Cuthell was able to describe to the Queen where the portrait painting would be hung. She is familiar with the place from previous visits.

The portrait painting was made possible by an anonymous donor group of young Kiwis who wanted to mark their loyalty to the Queen in celebration of her 60 years as Queen of New Zealand.

Gallery director Avenal McKinnon said the group felt it was important that the portrait would be on show and freely accessible in posterity for all citizens to see. 

¡¯¡¯It¡¯s a tremendous honour that Her Majesty has allowed the NZ Portrait Gallery  this unique opportunity to paint her from life rather than photographs,  which is now more usual,¡¯¡¯ Keith Ovenden, the gallery¡¯s chairman of trustees said.

¡°The New Zealand Portrait Gallery is a national institution so this portrait now belongs to the people of New Zealand. We hope as many people as possible will come to see it¡±.The portrait painting will be hung as part of the permanent collection in the gallery¡¯s home in  Shed 11 on the aptly named Queen¡¯s Wharf and available for public viewing from Saturday.