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Queen Elizabeth II (b. 1926) when Princess Elizabeth of York

Philip de László

Royal Collection Trust, UK

Royal Collection Trust, UK

De László apparently described his young sitter as “intelligent and full of character”, but “very sleepy and restless” at her second sitting after having attended Queen Mary’s birthday luncheon party. He had first met Princess Elizabeth when painting her parents, the Duke and Duchess of York in 1931 (RCINs 409308-9). He recounted that she showed “no sign of shyness and she was greatly interested in the portraits of her parents, and made some very amusing remarks”.

Princess Elizabeth is depicted as a personification of innocence, sitting in a gilt-wood chair wearing a pale satin dress with a bow to the waist and holding a bright posy of flowers in her hands. However, the only hint as to her royal status appears in the landscape beyond where the Copper Horse appears- a bronze equestrian sculpture of George III by Sir Richard Westmacott in Windsor Great Park.

De László painted a small sketch of the Copper Horse whilst he was completing this portrait of Princess Elizabeth (RCIN 409292). This possibly served as a diversion for the artist, but also gave him the information he needed to complete the background of the painting.

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