Rolf Harris’s Portrait of the Queen

Australian expat Rolf Harris, now based in the United Kingdom caused a bit of a stir with his portrait of the Queen. The entertainer briefly made the “wobble board” famous and more recently hosted the “Animal Hospital” television program in Britain, but has never been known as any kind of serious artist.. a cartoonist, sure.. but probably not someone that you would expect to get to paint the Queen of England.

portrait of the queenI think he did reasonably well, even if the big toothy smile doesn’t look quite right. It’s no Mona Lisa smile but is probably better than most British critics are saying about it. I would like to see someone like Georg Baselitz paint the queen. Lucian Freud has also painted her.
Rolf shows off Queen’s portrait
“The portrait, commissioned to mark the monarch’s 80th birthday next year, is said to be an “impressionistic”, rather than a “photographic”, representation. “I’m not making any claims that this is the greatest painting in the world,” said Harris, who trained as an artist, “I’ve done the best I can.” BBC

About Dion

Australian artist and observer of things.. all kinds of things. I like a wide variety of art, from the weird and wonderful to the bold and beautiful.. and everything in between.


  1. Not bad for a Spitting Image!

  2. I love it when commercial artists try to gain respectability in fine art with amateur representational portraits…looks like the queen, but then again that photo he was copying from probably did most of the work…

    It’s ok to take artistic liberties if the teeth start to look like dentures rolf!

  3. I think his only problem was that he was trying paint the queen of England rather than just create a painting. It’s an average portrait painting, probably very average, and the only reason it was talked about so much was because, it is a painting of the queen!
    If the Queen wanted an actual likeness, she should of asked Rolf to take her photo, but she didnt, Rolf painted her, and it’s his version of the woman in paint.
    One of the worst jobs in the world that I could think of is to be a portrait painter, and one of the sitters that I would least like to paint would be the Queen!

  4. i would seriously like to see any of you critics paint a better picture. i peronally love the painting and as a person in their 20′s found it changed my opinion of the queen. Rolf painting her has made younger people realise that the queen is a normal person who likes to have a laugh. I doubt any of you critics will ever have a fan base like rolf harris has or ever have half his talent!

  5. I didn’t know about this portrait until I saw a short documentary of Rolf and the Queen on a recent Qantas flight. If you think he just copied from a photo, think again and watch the doc. You get to see him and her interact as he creates the work from start to finish…a great portrait for the history books…good on you Rolf & Liz.

  6. Anonymous says:

    ‘but has never been known as any kind of academic artist..’ I don’t think you know what you’re talking about…

  7. Ok anon, replace “academic artist” with “fine artist”.

    The point was that the queen is usually painted by traditional painters. Not someone that is better known for caricatures.

  8. Daniel at Whitewall Galleries says:

    ‘Better known for’ is a phrase which highlights the lack of knowledge regarding Rolf’s long and illustrious art career. He has been painting since childood, seriously since studying in London in his twenties, has shown in exhibitions worldwide (including the Royal Academy and the National Gallery) and has brought fine art and art history to the attention of a wider public by presenting the most-watched art shows in television history. Obviously, as TV is mass-media, Rolf is ‘best known’ for his speedy “can you tell what it is yet?” large format landscapes and caricatures, but in his ‘real life’ Rolf has been silencing snobby critics and wowing buyers for many years with his wonderful portrayals of wildlife, landscapes and eclectic observational pieces. There is more to this man than a wobble-board and dodgy jokes. I think he well deserves his CBE, OBE, MBE, AM and honorary membership of the Royal Society of British Artists for his services to the arts. And that’s all before we start talking about his incredible TV career (since 1953), recording career and live stage performances. The man is a living legend.


  1. […] Friday when the court will hear of the artist’s state of health, so I’m expecting the painter of the Queen to turn up in a wheelchair and be wearing a respiratory face […]

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