Her Majesty's painter... from Russia
“I needed to create a portrait to fit a specific interior Drapers Hall space – this interior naturally has some colours which are dominant so I had to create something that would fit in colours and in size into the existing interior,” commented Sergey Pavlenko about his portrait of Her Majesty.
The Queen is a member of one of the oldest guilds in Britain – the Drapers company. They commissioned the work choosing Sergey from over 200 other artists.
“In many ways he's traditional, but I know he will hate me for saying that but his style is very respectful in his painting of her Majesty but also he has brought forward very much her as a lady,” said Penny Fussell, Drapers Hall.
Sergey said the hardest thing was the pressure. You have a certain number of sittings with the Queen and if you make a mistake there is no extra time.
Sergey Pavlenko: You can not be sure of the results so when it's done it's like a big relief.
Russia Today: So what did the Queen think about your painting?
S.P: I was the first artist who actually asked the Queen what she thinks about the portrait – because traditionally she does not express her opinion. Most artists did not ever ask, you know. But I asked. She said she liked it.
RT: So after that painting do you have now people queuing up at the door saying: we want to be painted by the same artist that painted the Queen?
S.P: Some people when seeing the portrait of the Queen, naturally they usually never think in terms that he can be painted by the same artist because this artist is only for the kings and queens, not for him.
Sergey is also famous for the first group portrait of the Royal Family, that includes the Duchess of Cornwall. Set outside the Old College at Sandhurst, the painting commemorates Prince Harry's graduation from the Military Academy.
“When Her Majesty the Queen came to take the parade at which Prince Harry was commissioned we invited the Royal Family to stand where you can see them standing in the painting. And the artist took some sketches and lots of videos and then he had sittings afterwards with all 8 of the people in the picture so I really think it captured the moment very well,” pointed Major General Andrew Ritchie, Commandant, Sandhurst Academy.
“I was lucky enough to be at the academy sergeant major at the time the two Royal princes came through their training at the academy. It was a great honour of course to be included in the picture,” shared Simeon Nichols, Sergeant Major, Sandhurst Academy.
Art connoisseurs say that sometimes it takes a foreigner's eye to capture and glamorise an essentially British look. There is a great tradition in Britain of talented portrait artists from overseas bringing their own vision to the depiction of the upper echelons of British society. And many say that Seregei Pavlenko belongs to that tradition.
His image of the Queen was used for a postage stamp – also the first to carry a Russian artist's name on it. But Sergey is modest.
'I feel proud but I don't feel like I am great, you know, I am just doing my work," said Sergey.