Ian Chilvers, partner at Atelier Works, says the consultancy was appointed in November 2011 and asked to design a set of stamps to mark the occasion.
‘We soon realised we weren’t going to have an up-to-date painting, as the whole project is planned and signed off so far in advance,’ says Chilvers. He adds, ‘The project itself determined the commission of the new painting.’
This is the first time the Royal Mail has commissioned a portrait of the Queen, and Chilvers says they turned to Nicky Philipps, whose style would complement the other paintings Atelier Works had selected.
Chilvers says, ‘The artist had to paint to a deadline, and it was only completed a week or so before we went to press. Of course she concentrated on the head and shoulders, because you only get about three hours with the Queen.’
Atelier Works experimented with selecting different styles of painting and went for traditional portrait style as they all work so well together, according to Chilvers.
He says, ‘There are so many different types of painting of the Queen. We could have used Warhol, Freud and Mortimer – and obviously we tried – but they all looked disparate and didn’t work as a set.’
The final compositions don’t have a secondary image of the Queen in the top right hand corner, like all other stamps, as the portrait suffices – ‘You don’t need to have two Queen’s heads,’ says Chilvers.
Royal Mail will gift the Philipps painting to the Royal collection. The other five stamps feature: study for The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II by Terence Cuneo, 1953; Portrait by Andrew Festing, 1999; Portrait by Pietro Annigoni, 1955; Portrait by Sergei Pavlenko, 2000 and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by Richard Stone, 1992. The stamps are available from today.