A new portrait of the Queen, commissioned by Royal Mail to adorn a stamp marking the 60th anniversary of the Coronation, has been derided by critics who said it looked more like Margaret Thatcher.
The painting, by artist Nicky Philipps, was branded “abominable” by experts who said it did not bear a strong likeness to the monarch.
The stamp is one of a series of six released to celebrate royal portraiture and will be available to buy from Thursday.
Although dozens of images of the Queen have featured on UK stamps over the last 60 years, it is the first time Royal Mail has ever commissioned its own portrait.
Estelle Lovatt, an art critic and lecturer, said: “It’s Thatcher meets Rumpole of the Bailey meets Hogarth, in Hogarthian England all the worse or perhaps the better for a glug of gin.
“It’s surely dreadful, embarrassing, monstrous. It looks more like my neighbour than the Queen.”
David Lee, editor of satirical art magazine The Jackdaw, said the portrait resembled “a bloke wearing a wig and earrings” and had “a hint of Churchill about it”.
He added: “Isolate the face so you see only the features and it is certainly unrecognisable as the Queen.
“As usual the real problem lies with the likeness. The facial features aren’t right. She doesn’t actually look like this, and never has; a distant foreign relative of the Queen perhaps, but not the Queen herself.”
Philipps, 48, painted a double portrait of the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry for the National Portrait Gallery, which was unveiled in 2010 to critical acclaim.
However, portraits of the Queen are often the subject of ridicule, as artist Dan Llywelyn Hall found to his cost earlier this month when his own attempt to mark the anniversary of the coronation was likened to a “drag impersonator”.
Rupert Alexander, who painted the Queen in 2010, said he thought Philipps’s portrait one of the more “successful” of recent years with its strong sense of light and well-constructed composition.
But he said the general standard of paintings was no longer as good as it was in the days of Rembrandt or Velasquez because there were no artists who boasted the same technical abilities.
“When realist painting was superseded by modernism around the turn of the century, traditional practices were no longer taught in art schools, and the knowledge was, for the most part, lost,” he said.
“Presently there seems to be a renewed interest in figurative painting, which may slowly lead to an increase in the quality of work being produced.”
Lee agreed: “The sad truth is that the basics of portrait painting are no longer taught,” he said.
“We no longer train painters to have the drawing skills to catch a likeness effortlessly every time.”
The Queen, who is depicted wearing the Order of the Garter robes, sat three times for Philipps in the Chinese Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace last autumn.
The artist said: “It was a great honour to be selected for this prestigious commission and I have enjoyed the process immensely.
“Her Majesty was wonderfully patient and friendly during the sittings and I hope she is pleased with the final result. I know she will be happy to see her corgis immortalised!”
The stamp was approved for release by the Queen, although the Palace declined to comment on the painting.
Philip Parker, head of stamp strategy at Royal Mail, said he thought it an “excellent portrait”.
He added: “We have featured the Queen many times over the last 60 years but when we looked back we realised that Royal Mail had never commissioned an original painted portrait.
“We thought the anniversary of the coronation was a marvellous time to correct that.”
The five other portraits featuring in the special series were produced between 1953 and 2000 by artists Terence Cuneo, Andrew Festing, Pietro Annigoni, Sergei Pavlenko and Richard Stone.
Royal Mail is gifting the latest work to the Royal Collection.
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