Art dealer hails Yeo's painting of King Charles as 'extraordinary' (2024)

An art dealer has hailed King Charles' new fiery red painting as 'extraordinary', describing it as the 'most progressive royal portrait in a very long time'.

The King today unveiled the first completed official portrait of himself since the Coronation at Buckingham Palace.

The painting, by the renowned artist Jonathan Yeo, was commissioned in 2020 to celebrate the then-Prince of Wales's 50 years as a member of The Drapers' Company.

It depicts His Majesty wearing the uniform of the Welsh Guards, of which he was made Regimental Colonel in 1975.

The 2300mm x 1655 mm portrait will go on display for a month at the Philip Mould Gallery in London from May 16 to June 14.

Art dealer Mr Mould said today: 'As it is such an important image, it's hugely important that the public have the opportunity to see it. It's an extraordinary 3D work of art.

King Charles today unveiled the first completed official portrait of himself since the Coronation at Buckingham Palace The painting is by the renowned artist Jonathan Yeo

🎨Today, The King unveiled a new portrait by @RealJonathanYeo at Buckingham Palace. The painting - commissioned by The Draper’s Company - is the first official portrait to be completed since His Majesty’s Coronation. It will hang in Draper’s Hall in London.

— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) May 14, 2024

King Charles III is pictured greeting Sir Philip Mould at the unveiling today

King Charles III prepares to unveil the painting at Buckingham Palace in London today

King Charles III greets artist Jonathan Yeo at the unveiling of the portrait today

'It's the most progressive royal portrait done from life in a very long time. It depicts continuity, mystery, a touch of divinity.

'Modern art is subversive, edgy. It's very different from the normal public offerings but Johnny has done it in my view. How do you paint a modern monarch? He's pulled it off.'

Today, Yeo spoke of a butterfly on the portrait echoing Charles's 'metamorphosis' from Prince to King during the process - and the monarch joked that it was nice to know he was a chrysalis.

Yeo added: 'People often say is there a secret to doing a good portrait? And I say I don't know really. Actually I think there is one, and that's having an interesting subject to start with. And you couldn't ask for a better one than this, other than Her Majesty.'

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As he gestured towards Camilla - whom he also painted a portrait of in 2014 - the comment was greeted with much laughter by those gathered in the palace.

Queen Camilla was heard to congratulate Yeo, declaring it 'fantastic' and kissed him warmly on each cheek.

The canvas size - approximately 8.5ft by 6.5ft framed - was carefully considered to fit within the architecture of Drapers' Hall and the context of the paintings it will eventually hang alongside.

Yeo had four sittings with The King, beginning when His Majesty was Prince of Wales in June 2021 at Highgrove, and later at Clarence House.

The last sitting took place in November 2023 at Clarence House.

He also worked from drawings and photography he took of His Majesty, allowing him to work on the portrait in his London studio between sittings.

Yeo said: 'It was a privilege and pleasure to have been commissioned by The Drapers' Company to paint this portrait of His Majesty The King, the first to be unveiled since his Coronation.

'When I started this project, His Majesty The King was still His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, and much like the butterfly I've painted hovering over his shoulder, this portrait has evolved as the subject's role in our public life has transformed.

'I do my best to capture the life experiences etched into any individual sitter's face. In this case, my aim was also to make reference to the traditions of royal portraiture but in a way that reflects a 21st Century monarchy and, above all else, to communicate the subject's deep humanity.

King Charles unveils his portrait by artist Jonathan Yeo, at Buckingham Palace today

The painting is revealed for the first time by King Charles at Buckingham Palace today

'I'm unimaginably grateful for the opportunity to capture such an extraordinary and unique person, especially at the historic moment of becoming King.'

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At Buckingham Palace, Charles and Queen Camilla were met by The Master of The Drapers' Company, Tom Harris and Past Master, William Charnley.

Together they joined Yeo who said a few words after His Majesty unveiled the portrait.

Guests included other members of the Drapers' Company, students and staff from the Drapers' Academy, Welsh Guards and Yeo's family.

The portrait will go on public display for a month at the Philip Mould Gallery in London, from this Thursday until June 14. Entry is free.

As the Kingunveiled the first official completed portrait of himself as monarch showing his 'metamorphosis' from prince to monarch, he exclaimed at the weight of the covering.

'Christ', the King exclaimed, as he pulled the giant red bow holding it up.

'I wondered what the frame was going to be like,' said His Majesty. for whom the painting wasn't a complete surprise. He had apparently seen it when it was 'two thirds' finished.

'It is remarkable, actually, how it has turned out. '

'Has it changed that much since you last saw it?' the artist asked.

'A little bit,' Charles joked. 'You have fiddled away up here, haven't you? '

King Charles smiles as he arrives for the unveiling today, for which he sat four times, beginning when he was Prince of Wales in June 2021

Charles stands at Buckingham Palace today next to Jonathan Yeo who painted the portrait

King Charles laughs with artist Jonathan Yeo, pictured next to his official portrait today

Yeo said to the sound of chuckles: 'Someone asked if I get nervous about unveilings and the answer is not normally. But then the subject doesn't normally become King half way through the process.

Read More King Charles unveils red, fiery painting of himself as his first post-Coronation portrait by artist Jonathan Yeo who included butterfly to capture his 'metamorphosis from Prince to King'

'It's a joy and honour to be here. I want to thank…above all the subject for trusting me with it and giving me so much of his time.

'People often say is there a secret to doing a good portrait and…that's having an interesting subject to start with.'

Yeo, who has also painted Queen Camilla, added to further laughs: ' I couldn't wish for a better one than this, other than Her Majesty.'

Explaining his vision - and that butterfly - he said: 'I won't bang on about the picture except to explain two artistic pieces of licence. One is the colour, obviously, which was inspired by the colour of the bright red tunic of the Welsh Guards. And that got me thinking it would be lovely to take the colour and spray it around the picture.

'The uniform and the medals are great references to historic royal portraits of the past but it felt like this one should have a bit more dynamic and contemporary feel. And hopefully it does that. But hopefully at the same time it allows the focus to be on the face and the eyes, which feel like a very informal part of it.

'The other thing is the butterfly. I would love to take full credit for that but it was actually the subject's idea. '

'Was it?' Charles interjected, laughing.

Queen Camilla is pictured warmly greeting the artist Jonathan Yeo at the unveiling today

A portrait by Jonathan Yeo of Queen Camilla in 2014 when she was duch*ess of Cornwall

Yeo continued: 'We had a conversation at the start about how it nice to would be to have a narrative element which referenced his passion for nature and the environment. And he said what about a butterfly on my shoulder, they often do that. I thought 'ooh, that's a good idea, I wish I had thought of that'. It also works as a counter point to the military steeliness of the sword. It is a little visual device.

'And then when he changed jobs half way through the process it added resonance because in art history terms you have the metamorphosis. It's nice a little simple visual device like that tells multiple stories. And perhaps it's testament to the subject's own artistic instinct that he brought such a lovely, beautiful element into the composition.

'The great joy and privilege of my job is that I get to paint some clearly very amazing people and get to spend some unique time with them. And you feel it your responsibility as an artist to communicate what you sew and experience and try to get it onto canvas and hopefully it does that with his warmth and kindness and curiosity and humour and the deep humanity of the king. '

Charles joked: 'It was nice to know I was a chrysalis when you first met me. Well thank you and congratulations. Fantastic. '

When it was pointed out that the butterfly was, in fact, a monarch butterfly, Yeo said: 'Yes another bit of artistic licence. It was named after William of Orange, I think, originally. Because it was orange. They are the ones most in danger. '

The King replied: 'I have seen them in that extraordinary part of Mexico in a remarkable forest. Thousands of them. But it is extraordinary how butterflies do come and l and on your shoulder if you are in the garden or something. I think it's lucky if they land on you, do you know what I mean?'

Yeo is one of the world's leading portrait artists whose subjects have included the industrial designer Sir Jony Ive, broadcaster Sir David Attenborough and activists MalalaYousafzai and Doreen Lawrence.

A portrait released by Jonathan Yeo in 2008 of Prince Philip, who died in April 2021

The painting was completed by the renowned artist Jonathan Yeo (pictured in London in 2018)

He has also produced portraits of actors Nicole Kidman, Giancarlo Esposito, Dennis Hopper, Idris Elba and Sienna Miller, artists Damien Hirst and Grayson Perry, model Cara Delevingne and former world leaders Tony Blair, David Cameron, Helle Thorning-Schmidt and Juan Manuel Santos.

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In addition, Yeo has previously produced commissions of Prince Philip and Camilla.

Thomas Harris, Master at The Worshipful Company of Drapers, who commissioned the painting, explained that the King's portrait would replace that of Queen Elizabeth in their Court Dining Room.

She will now join Admiral Nelson in the Courtroom - bumping the Duke of Wellington off the wall at Drapers' Hall in the City of London.

Known for both traditional and experimental portraiture, his work has been exhibited widely in museums and galleries worldwide.

He is currently artist trustee of the National Portrait Gallery.

The Drapers' Company can trace its allegiance to the monarch back to 1364 when it received its first charter from King Edward III.

This formally recognised the fraternity of Drapers in the City of London and granted them the monopoly rights over the cloth trade within the City.

The Company was frequently called upon to supply money, men and arms as required by the Crown.

From the 18th century, such support changed to the financial support of servicemen and the relief of need of the dependants of those injured or killed on duty.

Prince Albert, later George VI, became a Draper in 1919. Queen Elizabeth II became a Draper in 1947, joining the Court in 2017.

Charles became a Freeman of the Drapers' Company in 1971, when the Company also provided offices for the newly formed Prince's Trust at Drapers' Hall.

The Drapers' Company also boasts a substantial philanthropic arm, which dates back to Tudor times and now is administered through many charitable trusts that have been left in its care.

Art dealer hails Yeo's painting of King Charles as 'extraordinary' (2024)


Why is King Charles' painting red? ›

As for why he chose to use so much red in the portrait, the 53-year-old said he wanted it to tone and distract from the King's brightly coloured uniform. “I thought the red will really distract,” he told the paper, adding that his solution was to instead cover the whole painting in crimson.

What does King Charles portrait mean? ›

His website says the butterfly is a "visual contrast to the military steeliness of the uniform and sword." Butterflies also symbolize rebirth and transformation, representing Charles' transition into becoming king while the portrait was being created.

Who was the court painter to King Charles? ›

Charles I was born in 1600, crowned King of England in 1625, and beheaded outside the Banqueting Hall in Whitehall in 1649. He was an important patron of the arts and a notable collector. Van Dyck, whose magnificent 'Equestrian Portrait of Charles I' is in the Collection, was his court painter.

Who painted the King Charles portrait? ›

Jonathan Yeo, a U.K.-based artist, painted the portrait of Charles -- unveiled Tuesday at Buckingham Palace -- over the course of three years.

Why are Prince Charles hands red and puffy? ›

The technical term for King Charles' sausage fingers' is dactylitis which results in severe swelling that affects your fingers and toes. King Charles made fun of his swollen “sausage fingers” in a new documentary on the monarch's coronation.

Why is Charles skin so red? ›

In fact, the Prince suffers from a condition known as rosacea - a long-term skin condition that mainly affects the face. Although it is unknown exactly when the royal started to suffer from the condition, these noticeable “flare-ups” can be seen in photos and video footage of his wedding to Princess Diana back in 1981.

Why did King Charles wear two shirts? ›

On the cold morning of his execution, Charles requested two shirts to wear stating that: 'The season is so sharp as probably may make me shake, which some observers may imagine proceeds from fear. I would have no such imputation'.

Is King Charles a painter? ›

King Charles III has been painting for nearly 50 years after getting his start while at school in Scotland. King Charles started painting in the 1970s after he was inspired by Robert Waddell, his art master at Gordonstoun School in Scotland.

Did King Charles have a beard? ›

In truth, we could never properly imagine King Charles having a beard, but he did wear one briefly in his youth. These days, the monarch prefers a clean-shaven face. Like his son, Charles also went for a classic beard, however, Jim opined that the King should now remain clean-shaven.

What paint does Prince Charles use? ›

He works exclusively in watercolor, and his paintings were first exhibited in Windsor Castle in 1977.

What pseudonym does Charles use to display his paintings? ›

Arthur George Carrick” was a pseudonym. The real painter was the man who on Saturday will be crowned as Britain's king. Throughout his life, King Charles III has involved himself in British cultural life, not only a maker of art but as an avid spectator and patron.

Which artist is known for his portraits he became the court painter to Charles I of England? ›

Van Dyck is best known for his portraits of the aristocracy, most notably Charles I, and his family and associates. He was the dominant influence on English portrait-painting for over 150 years.

Who painted Princess Diana portrait? ›

Diana, Princess of Wales is a 1981 painting of Diana, Princess of Wales, by the British artist Bryan Organ. It was commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery in London following Diana's engagement to Charles, Prince of Wales, in February 1981 while the gallery was under the directorship of John Hayes.

Who painted Charles 1 in three positions? ›

Charles I in Three Positions, also known as the Triple portrait of Charles I, is an oil painting of Charles I of England by Flemish artist Sir Anthony van Dyck, showing the king from three viewpoints: left full profile, face on, and right three-quarter profile.

Who painted the last portrait of Prince Philip? ›

The portrait, by Ralph Heimans, an Australian-British royal painter, depicts the Duke of Edinburgh in formal attire standing in a long corridor at Windsor Castle.

Why does King Charles wear a pinky ring? ›

The signet ring, which depicts the seal of the Prince of Wales, dates back 175 years and was last worn by Charles' uncle, Prince Edward, the Duke of Windsor. Signet rings were traditionally worn to imprint the seal in hot wax on letter or documents, but more recently depict social status.

What is the significance of the Charles the First painting? ›

Analysis. Charles the First was executed in 1982, a breakout year in Basquiat's meteoric career. The painting pays homage to jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker, whose nickname was "Bird," a leading figure in the development of bebop.

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