See the Portrait of the Queen of England that Looks More Like Tom Hanks

Why do artists keep butchering portraits of the Royal Family?

Chen Dapeng with the bust. Photo: James Shaw/REX Shutterstock (5334713d)

Chen Dapeng with the bust.
Photo: James Shaw/REX Shutterstock (5334713d)

In a gesture of international reconciliation gone awry, Chinese sculptor Chen Dapeng recently presented the Queen of England and the Royal family with a massive, white porcelain bust of Her Majesty. The problem is that it looks more like a bloated Tom Hanks.

Shanghai-based Dapeng spent three months sculpting the bust, using videos, photographs, and even a biscuit tin portrait of the Queen for reference, the Telegraph reports. It was created to celebrate the celebrate the “UK-China Year of Cultural Exchange” and will be on display at the Winter Olympia Art and Antiques Fair in London from November 2–8.

“I can see that your British Queen is a remarkable and wonderful person who has served the British people well,” Dapeng said. “As an artist, I can see the wisdom and kindness in her features. My sculpture is offered as a gesture of reconciliation between our two peoples.”

That reference to “reconciliation” seems to refer to lingering Chinese resentment over the royal family’s association with the Opium Wars, suggests the Telegraph, which adds that after the English sacked an Imperial palace in 1860, a Pekingese dog stolen from the palace was presented to Queen Victoria, who dubbed the canine “Looty.”


Photo: via Telegraph.

Art dealer Paul Harris told the Telegraph that working with Chinese porcelain, which has 17 active ingredients compared to two or three in other forms of porcelain, presented great difficulties. The sculpture weighs about 44 pounds, and the fabricators made 13 attempts before achieving an intact version. Perhaps these factors help explain the poor resemblance.

“It’s rather out of proportion, the back of the head is too large and he has given her a bit of a boxer’s chin,” notes Telegraph art critic Mark Hudson.

Actor Tom Hanks. Photo: Wikipedia.

Actor Tom Hanks.
Photo: Wikipedia.

A spokesperson for the artist said the bust has been offered to the Queen as a gift, but representatives of Buckingham Palace told the Telegraph that they have no record of such an offer being made. Sounds like a pretty convenient excuse to us. Perhaps Her Majesty ought to take a page from the playbooks of Prince William and Kate Middleton, both of whom have been presented with several unfortunate portraits and taken it in impressive stride, pretending to be delighted with the gifts.

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