King Edward VII had taken the unusual step of sitting for his coronation portrait at the studio of society painter Luke Fildes in 1901-02. Queen Alexandra also sat to Fildes but, following the more expected convention, did so at Buckingham Palace in 1903. Both portraits were so well received that Fildes was invited to paint the coronation portrait of Edward’s son and successor, George V (1912; Royal Collection), who succeeded to the throne in 1910. However, his consort, Queen Mary, broke with this tradition by commissioning a comparatively little-known painter at the time, William Llewellyn, to produce this, her coronation portrait. The original work (c.1912; Royal Collection) was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1912 and, that year, Llewellyn was elected an associate member of the Academy.
William (Samuel Henry William) Llewellyn was born in Cirencester, the son of a bread moulder. His parents did not support his decision to become an artist. He studied at South Kensington under portraitist Sir Edward Poynter, but later moved to Paris to study in the studios of Fernand Cormon, Jules Lefebvre and Gabriel Ferrier. He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1884 and was commissioned to paint several state portraits. He was a Trustee of the National Gallery (1933-40) and President of the Royal Academy (1928-38). From 1940 his health deteriorated rapidly. He died at his home, Little Blundell House, in Campden Hill, London, in January 1941. After a funeral service at Westminster Abbey his ashes were buried in the crypt of St Paul’s.
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