The Portraits of Queen Elizabeth II

Portrait 10

Date of Original Portrait: Circa 1960
Artist: Robert Austin
This is the first portrait of a monarch to appear on a banknote issued by the Bank of England. It was drawn by Robert Austin, who was responsible for designing the 10-shilling and 1-pound notes of the ‘C’ series of notes issued by the Bank of England. Austin commenced his portrait by obtaining photographs of Her Majesty at a session in Buckingham Palace on 1 May 1956. The photographs were taken by a senior assistant of Dorothy Wilding. However, the final drawing by Austin was not based on a specific photograph from this session, it was a composite of a number of sources. The vignette on the notes shows Her Majesty wearing the George IV State Diadem, Queen Victoria’s Collet Necklace, Queen Mary’s Floret Earrings, and Queen Mary’s Dorset Bow Brooch. The necklace, which was left to the Crown by Queen Victoria in 1901, contains diamonds taken from a Garter badge and a ceremonial sword. The pear-shaped stone on the necklace is known as the Lahore Diamond. The Dorset Bow Brooch was made by Carrington and Company and presented as a wedding gift to Queen Mary in 1893 by the ‘County of Dorset’. Queen Mary gave the brooch to Princess Elizabeth as a wedding present in 1947. The engraving of Austin’s portrait was executed by R. Godbehear of Bradbury Wilkinson and Company. There was widespread criticism of the portrait when the notes were issued.
Use of this Portrait:
  • Bank of England -- Nos. 373 and 374

© Peter Symes 2003