‘Pearly Queen’ stamp artwork of late monarch could fetch £20,000 at auction

Artwork recreating the late Queen’s famous postage stamp image using thousands of hand-sewn mother of pearl buttons is set to fetch up to £20,000 at auction.

The Pearly Queen Of St James’s Palace by contemporary artist Ann Carrington will be sold to raise funds for the Queen Mother’s Clothing Guild charity in its 140th year.

Each button on the large-scale piece, which is more than a metre wide and high, represents the volunteer sewers who have crafted items for the Guild since 1882.

Pearly Queen of St. James’s Palace by Ann Carrington
Pearly Queen Of St James’s Palace by Ann Carrington (Dreweatts/PA)

It pays tribute to sculptor Arnold Machin’s portrait of the Queen, which has been reproduced more than 200 billion times after being introduced on the UK postage stamp in 1967.

Sewn on to black linen, the artwork also emulates the Penny Black – the world’s first adhesive postage stamp – which featured Queen Victoria and was still in circulation when the charity – one of the UK’s oldest – was founded.

Ms Carrington said she is very proud to have made the “special Pearly Queen”.

Ann Carrington working on the Pearly Queen of St. James’s Palace
Ann Carrington working on the Pearly Queen Of St James’s Palace (Dreweatts/PA)

She added: “Hand sewn from thousands of mother of pearl buttons, each button represents the volunteer sewers and knitters whose hand-made contributions since 1882 have enabled the charity to grow and flourish.

“The iconic Queen image is symbolic of the royal patronage received by the Guild and more important than ever today.”

The Guild responds to requests from charities across the UK for clothing and bedding that they have difficulty finding or funding themselves, with the charity sourcing and purchasing the items and its volunteers making thousands of hats, gloves, scarves, clothes and blankets.

Pearly Queen of St. James’s Palace by Ann Carrington
Pearly Queen Of St James’s Palace by Ann Carrington (Dreweatts/PA)

Last year, it donated 57,221 items to 60 charities in England and Scotland, supporting domestic violence refuges, homeless shelters, neonatal units, the elderly and end-of-life hospices for children and adults.

The late Queen’s cousin Princess Alexandra is its royal patron, following in the footsteps of the Queen Mother who served in the role for nearly 50 years.

Will Richards, deputy chairman of the auctioneers Dreweatts, said: “The auctioning of this generous gift by this internationally renowned artist will help raise important funds for the Guild whose work, especially now, is critical to so many.”

The piece is one of only 23 of its kind, with the late Queen commissioning a red and gold version during her Golden Jubilee to hang in her waiting room.

Detail on the artwork
Detail on the artwork (Dreweatts/PA)

Other owners of works in the series include Sir Elton John, Gwyneth Paltrow and fashion designer Paul Smith.

Ms Carrington is the only fine artist to hold a licence from Royal Mail to produce art in the form of the postage stamp.

The online sale will take place at 9pm on November 22 at dreweatts.com, with the piece estimated to fetch between £10,000 and £20,000.