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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Saturday Snap

One of the more unique events on the Tea in London experience that I led last year was my National Portrait Gallery tour: a chronological viewing in historical context of characters from the history of tea and tea drinking. Among the many portraits we enjoyed were those of Queen Elizabeth I, Samuel Pepys, and Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey.

One of our favorite portraits that day was “Conversation Piece at the Royal Lodge, Windsor” (c.1950), a serene scene of the future Queen Elizabeth II at tea with her daddy, mummy, and little sister – who just happened to be a King, a Queen, and a Princess. Now that’s what I call RoyalTEA! The original of this informal family portrait is roughly 3x5 (feet) and I must say, it is quite impressive.

Here’s the official description:

King George VI, Queen Elizabeth, Princess Elizabeth (Queen Elizabeth II), and her sister Princess Margaret. The Royal Family remained in London throughout the war, and when Buckingham Palace received a direct hit the Queen said 'now we can look the East End in the face'. Determination to share in the fate of the nation increased the popularity of the monarchy. The informality of the presentation, for which the Queen was responsible, was entirely new: set at Royal Lodge, where the family's life was informal, and at tea-time, an accessible and very British occasion. Gunn, who had been chosen by the King and Queen for the commission, recalled the difficulty of placing the corgi, moving it about on the canvas in a paper cut-out. Commissioned to hang in a public collection, its domestic character demonstrates changes in perceptions of the monarchy.

When I lived in London, I purchased a copy of this lovely picture and had it framed upon my return to the States. You can see it above, hanging on the wall in my living room.

Copies of many images in The National Portrait Gallery's collection can be purchased either in person (if you happen to find yourself in London), or via the internet. Click here for details. Or perhaps you would care to join me in person for the 2009 Tea in London tour...
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