L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A father, a son, a crown - state portraits of Edward VII and George V by Sir Luke Fildes

King Edward VII, 1902. Queen Alexandra, on seeing the painting, slyly alluded to the King's droopy eyelids which the artist had done little
to disguise, "I like it very much. I think it is very good. I know that expression so well. It is just like him when he begins to feel drowsy."
There were several copies of this portrait made by the artist. (More under his supervision.) The above is in the Royal Collection and there are
noticeable differences between this version and the one which leads off this post. This one is claimed to be the original version... which I find
difficult to believe as it appears of inferior quality, and the portrait doesn't so closely approach the artist's preparatory sketch, seen below.
This is a variant commissioned in 1912 for the subject's widow, the Dowager Queen Alexandra.
Fildes' preparatory sketch of 1901.

Sir Samuel Luke Fildes (3 October 1843, Liverpool – 28 February 1927, Kensington, London), English painter and illustrator. The grandson of political and social activist Mary Fildes, he spent the early part of his career as an illustrator for weekly London newspapers, publications that most often focused on the plight of the poor and other social ills. He gradually branched out into book illustration; before his death, Charles Dickens commissioned Fildes to illustrate his final, unfinished, novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. By around 1870 he had given up his newspaper work to focus on painting. The majority of his work still reflected contemporary social concerns, but he also produced lighter genre subjects and became successful as a portrait painter. He was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1879, a Royal Academician in 1887, and was knighted by King Edward VII in 1906. In 1918, he was appointed a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order by King George V. He died in London at the age of eighty-three.

King George V, 1911-12.
Fildes' preparatory sketch, circa 1911.


  1. These are among my favorite portraits of the two kings. I also love his painting of Queen Alexandra. It was interesting to see the comparison between the two versions and to note the differences in quality, color and detail.

    One question... Do you happen to know what order King Edward VII is wearing here? I've never really looked at that detail and note that it's not the Garter which, as the highest order of chivalry in Great Britain, I would have expected.

    Lastly, I also find that I like the sketches almost as much as the finished paintings!

    1. I'm not sure, but I think Edward VII's sash is that of the Royal Victorian Order; the colors are right, anyway. In the Fildes very doll-like state portrait of Queen Alexandra that you mention - I've included that in an earlier post - she IS wearing the Garter riband.