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Royal Collection © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
The Reverend Professor Owen Chadwick
XQG 2002 397
The Order of Merit was founded on the coronation of Edward VII in 1902, to be 'given to such persons, subjects of Our Crown, as may have rendered exceptionally meritorious services in Our Crown Services or towards the advancement of the Arts, Learning, Literature, and Science or such other exceptional service as We are fit to recognise'. The Order is restricted to twenty-four members. Between 1907 and 1913 portraits of twenty-four of the early members of the Order were commissioned, of which fourteen were by William Strang, but this practice fell into abeyance with the outbreak of war. In 1987 Her Majesty The Queen revived the tradition with the intention that each member should be drawn by a different artist, and at the time of writing a further forty-six portraits have been added to the series.
Owen Chadwick (b. 1916) is the leading ecclesiastical historian of our time. After graduating from St John's College, Cambridge, he took Holy Orders and was elected a fellow of Trinity Hall. He was Master of Selwyn College from 1956 until his retirement in 1983, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge between 1969 and 1971, and held the chairs of Dixie Professor of Ecclesiastical History (1958-68) and Regius Professor of Modern History (1968-83). Owen Chadwick was appointed to the Order of Merit in 1983.
The artist Tom Phillips has worked in a wide range of media - visual, literary and musical - often in combination; his autobiographical Curriculum Vitae, his translation of Dante's Inferno and his extended chance-poem A Humument all explore the interrelation of word and image. Portraits have formed a large part of his painted work, in a variety of styles and sometimes openly in emulation of his School of London forerunners. Phillips is very conscious of his artistic ancestry, and has traced his lineage of teacher and pupil back through Auerbach, Bomberg and Sickert, and ultimately to Raphael. On completion of the portrait, Chadwick described it in a letter as 'a green tough clerical Machiavelli. I hope I'm not like that inside but it is great fun to be it outside.'
Signed lower right tom phillips LXXXIX
Catalogue entry from Royal Treasures, A Golden Jubilee Celebration, London 2002