This portrait of The Queen Mother was painted as the centrepiece for my first exhibition in the USA. As a result of a friendship forged with Dr and Mrs Daniel McGann on a transatlantic crossing aboard the Queen Elizabeth II, I was invited to stage an exhibition in their house at San Marino, California. I wrote to The Queen Mother requesting a sitting, which she graciously granted. Time was short, as I was due to leave for Los Angeles just three weeks later. This tiny panel was painted in record time, and is perhaps my best portrait of Her Majesty. Although the picture remained for many years in my studio, it was exhibited from time to time.
When I was later approached by Prince Michael of Kent’s office to assist in raising funds for the Queen Elizabeth Gate Appeal for Hyde Park, I approached Clarence House with the suggestion that I give Prince Michael the portrait, with the intention that it should be auctioned to raise funds for the appeal. Queen Elizabeth readily agreed, Prince Michael accepted it, and at a spectacular dinner at the home of John Latsis in 1993 it raised £25,000. A limited-edition print was produced, raising further funds for the appeal.
Since The Queen Mother had been such a support to me in my career, it seemed appropriate to place the portrait in the public domain, as a token of my appreciation. I have since learned that a postcard-sized reproduction of the painting sat for many years on HRH the late Princess Margaret’s desk. I am flattered to think that it was apparently one of her favourite portraits of her mother.