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Queen’s Painting Heads To Auction

February 9, 2024
An untitled abstract painting mainly in blue and yellow

Untitled by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark

Royals involved in the arts is far from a new concept. For centuries, royalty and nobility served as the primary patrons for visual artists. More recently, however, many crowned heads have dabbled in their own creative pursuits. King Charles III is an avid watercolorist, while his great-great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria was known to have occasionally painted floral still-lifes, like those sold at auction last year. Now, another royal painting is heading to auction, but this time, the artist is around to see it sell. Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, who recently abdicated in favor of her son Frederik X, has been drawing and painting for most of her life. And now one of her paintings is expected to sell at auction for at least $11,000.

The former queen has been involved in the arts for decades. One popular story goes that shortly before becoming queen in the early 1970s, Margrethe created a series of illustrations for JRR Tolkien’s fantasy trilogy, The Lord of the Rings. Under a pseudonym, she sent these drawings to the author. Although Tolkien typically disapproved of illustrations in his books, he seemed to have greatly enjoyed the Queen’s work. It is said that when Tolkien died in 1973, two of the Queen’s illustrations were in his coat pocket. In 1977, when a new edition of his books was to be published, the Folio Society chose the Queen’s drawings for both the English and Danish editions. Apart from painting and drawing, her other hobbies include embroidery and costume design. As Queen, she worked with the Royal Danish Ballet to design sets and costumes for their productions.

In terms of paintings, though, several of her works have appeared at auction before, almost always in Denmark. The most recent, created her auction record: an acrylic-on-canvas painting measuring 31.5 by 35.4 inches entitled Fra de yderste fjelde, or From the outermost mountains. It sold at Bruun Rasmussen in March 2021 for 230,000 Danish kroner, or approximately $36,800. The painting being offered at Rasmussen this year is untitled, created in 1988 and presented by the queen as a gift for Hans Sølvhøj, who served as her court’s hofmarskal, or the equivalent of a steward or a chamberlain. The painting has stayed in the family ever since and has been exhibited several times, both in Denmark and internationally. Rasmussen has not specified the sale that will feature the painting, but has given it an estimate range of 75,000 to 100,000 kroner, or between $10,900 and $14,000.