Chiswick artist Humphrey Bangham was commissioned to paint two portraits for the current series of The Crown. “I don’t know if they’re still in it or if they hit the cutting room floor” he says, but he was asked to paint Olivia Coleman as Her Majesty and Charles Dance as Lord Mountbatten.
The third series was launched on Netflix last week. I’m up to episode five and can tell him his portrait of Mountbatten certainly made into the final cut, playing a small but significant part in the episode in which ‘Uncle Dickie’ is invited to lead a coup against Harold Wilson’s government.
He met them both on a shooting day when they were already in costume. I asked him what they were like to work with. Everyone says how lovely Olivia is. Charles has a reputation of being a tad imperious on set, and given the kind of role he plays, you can just imagine what being on the receiving end of a stern look from those steely blue eyes might be like. His stock in trade is a gimlet stare ranging anywhere from direct to withering.
“They were lovely” says Humphrey. “Olivia Coleman was an absolute delight. Everything everyone says about her is true. She’s giggly and lovely”. He met her at Wilton House, near Salisbury, home of the Earl and Countess of Pembroke, and spent half an hour with her taking photos. Charles Dance he met at Ham Polo Club, and once he managed to get him to stand still for five minutes he was “charming.”
Humphrey has been a professional artist and designer for over 30 years, having trained at Chelsea art college. He’s a dab hand at knocking out Van Dycks and Gainsboroughs for period dramas. His portrait of the Queen is in the style of the Italian artist Pietro Annigoni, who painted Her Majesty twice; the portrait on which Humphrey’s painting is based, Her Majesty in Robes of the British Empire, in 1969.
“The script is a closely guarded secret” says Humphrey, “but I did see Prince Philip (Matt Smith) had a line in which he walked past and said she looked like she was standing on the moon. How very Prince Philip.
Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar
See also: Directory of Chiswick Artists