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OrgaVictoria & Albert Museum, London, UKnized and circulated by the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK
September 29, 2012
to January 6, 2013

In 2012, Her Majesty the Queen is celebrating her Diamond Jubilee—sixty years as Head of State of the Commonwealth realms and the United Kingdom. To mark the occasion, the Victoria and Albert Museum have organized an exhibition of important portraits to tour internationally. The images are drawn exclusively from the Museum’s collection of photographs taken by royal photographer Sir Cecil Beaton and comprise vintage prints as well as new prints from Beaton’s original negatives. The photographs depict the Queen and the Royal Family on official occasions and “offduty” at home. Highly-staged and elegant settings are placed alongside charming and informal moments, capturing regal splendour as well as personal intimacy. The photographs are augmented by Beaton’s personal diary accounts, rich with details of many sittings.

Works in the exhibition include charming portraits of the teenage Princess Elizabeth with her parents and sister Princess Margaret, set against elaborate painted backdrops. Also featured is the day of the Coronation in 1953, when Beaton’s camera captured both the grandeur and emotion of the occasion. Beaton’s work as royal photographer also gave him the rare privilege of the first glimpses of the “New Generation” of Royals. The exhibition draws to a close with “The Queen’s Last Sitting” of 1968, including a set of portraits of the Queen in a dark admiral’s cloak against a plain background, which convey the magnitude of the role of Britain’s monarch.

Biography, Cecil Beaton

The extraordinary career of Cecil Beaton (1904 –1980) as a royal photographer spanned five decades. He worked in both colour and black and white, frequently employing several cameras during a single sitting to achieve the desired effects. The exhibition examines his working methods, styles and approaches, explaining his rise to fame as one of the twentieth century’s masters of the art of photography.

Media Release: A Royal Exhibition to Arrive at the McMichael this Fall

Special Events at the McMichael Celebrating Queen Elizabeth II


Sunday, October 14, 2:00 p.m.
Queen Elizabeth II by Cecil Beaton: A Diamond Jubilee Celebration
Visit the gallery on Sunday for the public opening of Queen Elizabeth II by Cecil Beaton: A Diamond Jubilee Celebration that acknowledges the Crown’s unique relationship with Canada’s Aboriginal peoples. A smudging ceremony will be followed by an interactive family audience performance of Eagle Thunder, The Story of Hope by Tsimshian Elder and artist Shannon Thunderbird, and singer/ songwriter Sandy Horne. Please join us for the official celebration of this unique exhibition.

Royal Subjects Speaker Series

Saturday, October 13, 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. 
PART 1: Sixty Years a Queen by Peter Trepanier 
Seeing Queen Elizabeth II as the ultimate performance artist (one who doesn’t merely act out her role as Queen, but rather embodies it), Peter Trepanier has been assembling pictures documenting her reign for the past ten years. As collector and artist, Trepanier explores images of the Queen and her family using collage to offer insight to our collective perception of the monarch and her place in our national ethos. Peter Trepanier is Head of Reader Services at the Library of the National Gallery of Canada. Included with gallery admission. Registration required.

Saturday, October 20, 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. 
PART 2: Beneath the British Flag, The Crown and Haudenosaunee People Dialogue 
Jeff Thomas and Rick Monture are both leading Six Nations intellectuals passionately questioning persisting stereotypes regarding the Canadian Aboriginal community. This encounter will give them an opportunity to re-contextualize two historical narratives: the complex story behind the British portraits of Four Indian Kings and the tale of the Mohawk poetess, Emily Pauline Johnson. Jeffrey M. Thomas is an Iroquois/Onondaga photographer, curator, and cultural analyst currently living in Ottawa. Dr. Rick Monture, a member of Mohawk Nation, is Assistant Professor of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University. Included with gallery admission. Registration required.

Saturday, November 3, from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. 
PART 3: John Fraser, The Secret of the Crown 
In this talk promoting his latest publication, award-winning journalist, author, and royal authority, John Fraser, will explore the endurance and allure of the Crown in Canada. With his trademark wit and artful agility, he looks at the Crown’s evolution from the Age of Deference to the era of celebrity, examines various aspects of the monarchy’s history and, finally, speculates on the future reign of Charles, Prince of Wales. Included with gallery admission. Registration required.

Community exhibition

Saturday, October 13 to Sunday, November 4 
Her Crowning Glory, Celebrating Sixty Years of Fashion in Hats 
Developed in collaboration with Seneca College, Fashion Resource Centre

From buttons and bows to feathers and flowers—during her reign Queen Elizabeth II has worn six decades worth of fashionable hats. This special display, developed in collaboration with Seneca College, presents fashionable millinery styles of the sort worn by members of the Royal Family as well as chic women of society from decades past. The Fashion Resource Centre at Seneca College is a collection of more than 10,000 garments and fashion accessories dating from the mid-1800s to present day and is used as a teaching aid for students in Seneca’s fashion programs. Included with gallery admission.

With two additional ‘Fashionable Hat’ programs for adult or child!

Saturday, October 27, 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Dale Peers, Her Crowning Glory
Once upon a time, every princess wore a crown and every woman, a hat. Hats can be worn to hide the head and at the same time reveal information about the wearer. A woman’s social standing, personality, and fashionability may all be stated through her choice of millinery. Dale Peers, Professor and Costume Coordinator of the Seneca’s Fashion Resource Centre, will describe some of the important roles millinery has played in society and fashion over the decades, with examples from the Centre’s collection. Cost: $25 general public; $20 McMichael members. Gallery admission included. Registration required.

Sunday, October 28, 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Halloween Hat Extravaganza 
Since her coronation in 1952, Queen Elizabeth II has purportedly worn 5,000 hats! Today is your opportunity to make your own most extravagant head creation, to match your Halloween costume. Visit one of our ongoing all-ages activity tables and hear about McMichael spirits in stories our educators are “pulling out of their hats!” Storytelling sessions take place at 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Canadian Heritage

We acknowledge the support of the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage for the special exhibition programs. Nous reconnaissons l’appui du gouvernement du Canada par l’entremise du ministère du Patrimoine canadien pour les programmes d'exposition spéciale.

Queen Elizabeth II by Cecil Beaton

Cecil Beaton: Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret-1945

Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, 1945
Photography by Sir Cecil Beaton (1904-1980), Victoria & Albert Museum Collection

Queen Elizabeth II in Coronation Robes

Queen Elizabeth II in coronation robes by Cecil Beaton, 1953, Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Cecil Beaton by Curtis Moffat

Cecil Beaton by Curtis Moffat, about 1930, Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

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