Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of HRH the Duke of Edinburgh (b.1921) 1960

Robert Norman Hepple (19081994)

Portrait of HRH the Duke of Edinburgh (b.1921), Robert Norman Hepple
Oil on canvas
20th Century
30 x 25 inches, 76.2 x 63.5 cm
Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 1960.
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This extremely accomplished sketch portrait of the Duke of Edinburgh is not known to be a study for any other composition, but was exhibited in its own right at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 1960.

Displaying the spontaneity and flashes of insight that mark the life sitting, it shows the Duke in the mantel of the Order of the Garter, the white tapes on the shoulder being intended to secure the -absent- chain of the Greater George.

Hepple came from an artistic dynasty -both his father and uncle were painters - and first achieved recognition with his Self Portrait as a soldier (1926) which was accepted by the Royal Society of Portrait Painters in that year. This painting in which the artist shows himself in a steel helmet and army uniform appears at first to be a particularly insightful and moving document of the Great War, but is in fact an effective piece of theatre, as the painter was a civilian who knew that the uniform would give his painting an impact attainable by no other guise.

During the Second World War Hepple was attached as official artist to the Fire Brigade, and produced a number of dramatic canvases that are in the collection of the Imperial War Museum, London. In 1961 he was elected to the Royal Academy. Failing eyesight ended his career late in life, and tragically he met his death in a road accident returning from an election at the Royal Academy.
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