Andy Warhol Reigning Queens (Queen Ntombi Twala of Swaziland) (F & S II.346 - 349)Facts | History | Meaning
Catalogue Title Reigning Queens (Queen Ntombi Twala of Swaziland) (F & S II.346 - 349) Year 1985 Size 39 3/8″ x 31 1/2″ 25,4 x 19 cm Medium Screenprint on Lenox Museum Board Edition Portfolio of 4. Edition of 40, 10 AP, 5 PP, 3 HC, 30 TP containing only one image of each queen, signed and numbered in pencil. There is also a Royal Edition of 30, 5 AP, 2PP, and 2 HC, sprinkled with diamond dust, notated as FS II.346A-349A).
Andy Warhol Reigning Queens (Queen Ntombi Twala of Swaziland) (F & S II.346 - 349)Meaning & History
"As the only portrait of a non-Western Queen and a woman of colour, this work holds a place of inestimable importance."
Reigning Queens is a large series of portraits of four world Queens executed by Warhol in 1985. The present suite of portraits is of Queen Ntombi Twala, at the time of painting Queen Regent. As the only portrait of a non-Western Queen and a woman of colour, this work holds a place of inestimable importance.
In tribute to her cultural heritage, each portrait of Queen Ntombi Twala is blazes with bright colours that recall the sun and heat of Africa in oranges and red. As with other portraits in Reigning Queens, the Monarch is stylised in their traditional dress: what is distinctive about Ntombi is her fantastic crown, which Warhol retraces and colours - as well as patterned bodice and gold necklace. This distinction is not just an aesthetic one, as Ntombi also stands out as not just a monarch in her culture, but a spiritual head of State.
This suite is a triumphant example of Warhol’s ability to select and curate public images, appropriating them to make the viewer understand their importance. In Reigning Queens, Warhol chose four Queens: Elizabeth, Beatrix, Magrethe and Ntombi, and portrays them as them as ultimate modern female icons, empowered both in their social status and beauty.
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