To mark the 60th anniversary of the Queen's Coronation, Royal Mail has created an extraordinary collection featuring some of the finest portraits of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The portraits are the following (in chronological order):
1953 Terence Cuneo – 2nd Class; it was the Queen's representatives, the Lord- Lieutenants of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, who commissioned Cuneo to paint the Coronation. The artist attended all eight rehearsals for the event then began painting in the early morning of the Coronation, sketching for eight hours straight. The painting featured on the stamp is a preparatory oil sketch depicting the Queen alone, executed with great liveliness of brushwork and intensity of colour, seen especially in the abstract haze of light surrounding the figure.
1955 Pietro Annigoni - 88p; this celebrated portrait was commissioned in 1954 by the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers for their magnificent hall overlooking the Thames.
Pietro commented how in awe of the Queen he was, until she began chatting to him in French. She told him that as a child she liked to watch the world go by from the windows of Buckingham Palace. It was at this moment Pietro realised what his portrait should convey: "the Queen who, while dear to the hearts of millions whom she loved, was herself alone and far off."
1992 Richard Stone - £1.88; in 1989, Richard Stone's home town of Colchester celebrated its 800th anniversary of its Royal Charter; a portrait was commissioned to mark this occasion then later unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery. The artist's style is intended to match the grandeur and dignity of the golden age of British portraiture. The profile view adds an element of gravity and introspection. After seeing the finished work, the Queen remarked somewhat prophetically, "it will make a good stamp".
1999 Andrew Festing – 78p; commissioned by the Royal Hospital Chelsea, this portrait is displayed in the entrance hall of its museum. The Queen is shown at Chelsea Hospital, on the steps leading to the Council Chamber. She wears the regalia for the State Opening of Parliament – the Parliamentary Robe of State and the Diamond Diadem. Her traditional costume conveys the continuity in British life of which the monarchy is the most powerful expression.
2000 Sergei Pavlenko – £1.28; commissioned by the Worshipful Company of Drapers to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Queen becoming a Freeman of the Company, this painting hangs in the Court Dining Room at Drapers' Hall. Unveiled in November 2000, the portrait shows the Queen in Garter robes with one unusual addition – the Drapers' brooch, presented to Her Majesty in 1947. Pavlenko's image conveys the Queen as the nation's most exalted and famous hostess, welcoming hundreds of people every year to Buckingham Palace.
2013 – 1st Class; this portrait was commissioned by Royal Mail especially for this collection and shows the Queen in Garter robes. The artist demonstrates mastery of paint, with the Queen's head carefully described yet with remarkable animation in the brushstroke and expression. The finished piece shows the Queen wearing the regalia of one of her offices with an easy and cheerful assurance. The portrait expresses Her Majesty's joy and quiet satisfaction at the end of a magnificent Jubilee year.