Fildes painted the coronation portraits of King Edward VII (1902) and Queen Alexandra (1905) and a portrait of George, Prince of Wales (later George V) in 1892 to commemorate the Prince’s engagement to Princess Mary of Teck. Following the death of Edward VII, George, Prince of Wales became King George V and Fildes was invited to paint a state portrait of the new king in 1912. The painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy the same year and, as soon as the Academy exhibition closed, was dispatched to another artist’s studio to be copied. The event was reported in the 'Litchfield Mercury' on 19 July:
‘…replicas are to be prepared of the State portrait of his present Majesty, which was painted by [Luke Fildes] ... These portraits are destined for some of the Courts of Europe, and are also to be sent to certain diplomatic and Government buildings abroad. …The [original] Coronation picture, it is understood, will be retained at Buckingham Palace…’
This is one of many versions of this royal portrait, painted by a group of copyists. They were commissioned by the Lord Chamberlain’s Department for display in British embassies and legations across the world. The original work remains in the Royal Collection.
Sir Samuel Luke Fildes, commonly known as Luke Fildes, wasas an illustrator before turning to portrait painting. He was commissioned by the novelist Charles Dickens to illustrate his last novel ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’, published in 1870. In 1874 Fildes’ large painting of ‘Applicants for Admission to a Casual Ward’, showing the destitute queuing in hope of a night of shelter, brought him overnight fame, when it was exhibited at the Royal Academy, accompanied by a quote from Dickens. Fildes continued to paint social realist subjects, but it was as a portrait painter that he found fame and fortune. His painting of the Princess of Wales (later Queen Alexandra) of 1894 led to a series of royal commissions.
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