Study of monarch fetches very royal price
A holographic portrait of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II by an acclaimed Canadian photographer, Chris Levine, was recently sold on auction in England for £187500 (about R3.1million) – by far surpassing its pre-sale estimates of £50000 to £80000.
The sale of the majestic yet meditative image, The Lightness of Being, was handled by Barnebys, a leading global art auction and collectables website.
In November 2003, the “light artist” Levine set up a shoot for the queen in the Yellow Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace. He had been commissioned by the island of Jersey’s Heritage Trust to create the first holographic portrait of the queen.
During the shoot, the monarch was asked to sit still for seconds at a time, and between each exposure she closed her eyes to rest.
Levine was so struck by the beauty of her serene state he snapped the shutter and the result was the powerful image that, probably because it was so unique, inspired frantic bidding.
Prior to the day of the photo shoot, Levine had been asked by the queen’s stylist what he would like her to wear.
Levine selected the diamond diadem that was made in 1820 for George IV, and worn by Elizabeth on the way to her coronation. It is the crown depicted on coins and postage stamps.
Levine captured more than 8000 images of the British monarch from two sittings.
In 2012, Levine’s images of the queen featured in the major exhibition, Queen: Art and Image, at London’s National Portrait Gallery. In June that same year, another Levine study of the queen, Equanimity, made the cover of TIME magazine.
In 2015, he also completed a historic portrait to commemorate the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday to raise funds for the victims of Nepal’s disastrous earthquake. He is only the second artist to take a formal portrait of the Dalai Lama.
The previous one was Annie Leibovitz.
Levine, who was born in Ontario, Canada, lives and works in Northamptonshire in the United Kingdom.