Her Majesty The Queen shown as Sovereign of the Thistle in striking Scottish portrait

By Culture24 Reporter | 16 January 2014

A photo of the Queen, standing on the Edinburgh highlands and inspired by ancient portraiture, has been bought by the Scottish National Portrait Gallery

A photo of a queen standing on highland fields wearing a large dark green royal robe
Julian Calder, Queen of Scots, Sovereign of the most Ancient and most Noble Order of the Thistle and Chief of the Chiefs© Julian Calder
A moody portrait of The Queen, setting Her Majesty under a sky of grey clouds by the Gelder Burn, on the Balmoral estate, has been bought by the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

Photographer Julian Calder took his arresting photo, Queen of Scots, Sovereign of The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of The Thistle and Chief of The Chiefs, for a book about some of the leading administrative figures in Britain in August 2010. He was inspired by the work of Sir Henry Raeburn, the 18th and early 19th century Scottish artist known for his evocative landscapes.

The monarch is imagined as Sovereign of The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of The Thistle, a chivalric Order dating from the 17th century whose robes she wears alongside insignia bearing the emblem of the thistle – Scotland’s national flower – and the cross of Saint Andrew, the patron saint of the nation and Order.

Christopher Baker, the director of the gallery, called the “unusual” and “impressive” portrait – which becomes the only version of the work in a gallery collection – a “very welcome addition”.

“Her Majesty visited the gallery in 2012 to formally re-open it, following its highly successful redevelopment, and so it is especially pleasing to be able to show here such a striking and distinctly Scottish portrait, which represents an accomplished and fresh interpretation of traditional imagery,” he added.

Calder’s other sitters have included Lady Thatcher, Sir Dirk Bogarde and Sir Richard Branson. The canvas has been hung in gallery 7, next to examples of Raeburn’s portraits.

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