British artist David Hockney has been chosen to design a stained glass window in the opulent settings of Westminster Abbey to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, who has been on the throne for 64 years and counting, since her coronation in February 1952.
Born in Bradford, West Yorkshire, Hockney made a name for himself in the 1960’s, when he would become a leading figure in the pop art movement, before spreading his expertise across the sectors of photography, printing and stage design.
Hockney has a home and studio in Kensington, London and two residences in California, where he has lived on and off for over 30 years: one in Nichols Canyon, Los Angeles, and an office and archives on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood.
Many of Hockney’s works are housed in Salts Mill, in Saltaire, near his home town of Bradford. Writer Christopher Isherwood’s collection is considered the most important private collection of his work.
This opulent offer is not Hockney’s first brush with royalty – the Bradford native had previously turned down an offer to paint Her Majesty, before finally capturing her likeness on an iPad as he watched the Diamond Jubilee river pageant on TV in 2012.
But what does Hockney have up his sleeve for Westminster Abbey?
Speaking about his ideas, he claimed to have “planned a landscape full of blossom that’s a celebration every year.” Known as ‘The Queen’s Window’, Hockney’s illustration will be spread across a window measuring 20 metres by 8 metres in the Abbey’s north transept, with the cost covered by a duo of anonymous benefactors.
But why David Hockney?
Speaking to the BBC, a spokesman for Westminster Abbey described Hockney as being “probably the greatest contemporary British artist.” Hockney had previously been “awarded the Order of the Merit” by Her Royal Highness, making him the “most appropriate choice.”
Hockney will be given guidance by Abbey officials, but “will have pretty much free rein because he’s David Hockney.” The spokesman for the Abbey concluded by adding, “We’re as interested as everyone else to see what he comes up with. The Queen is certainly aware of the proposal and there will be continual briefings from us.”