When the Queen Elizabeth Building opened in 1957, Exhibition Place acquired a portrait of HRH Queen Elizabeth II to grace its halls. The painting was done by portrait painter Denis Quentin Fildes ca. 1955.
Denis Quentin Fildes was born in Lancashire, England in 1889. Fildes joined the Royal Navy in 1906 and was a midshipman. When war was declared with Germany in 1914 Fildes was already a lieutenant with his own ship. In December of 1915 the ship blew up and sank causing great loss of life. Fildes was badly burned but survived. In March of 1916 he was back in service and continued as lieutenant on various vessels until 1922. He was then retired with a disability pension, but during the Second World War served as a port officer.
In civilian life he followed his father's profession as a portrait painter. His father Samuel Luke Fildes (1843 – 1927) was an accomplished illustrator and painter and had been commissioned by the British Royal Palace to paint portraits of various royal members.
One of Denis Fildes’ commissions was a full-length portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip for the Royal Naval College at Greenwich in London. Fildes painted royal portraits of Queen Elizabeth II, the Queen Mother and King George VI. His portrait of King George VI (1895-1952) as Admiral of the Fleet (ca. 1949 – 52) is part of the Royal Collection Trust in England.
Many of his portraits are housed in museums all over England. Fildes’ sword, photographs of his naval career, letters and signals are housed in the National Maritime Museum’s collection in Greenwich, London.
Denis Quentin Fildes passed away in 1975. For more information about the artist please visit the Royal Museums Greenwich website: www.rmg.co.uk.
Lieutenant-Commander Denis Quentin Fildes, 1889-1975 painted by his father Samuel Luke Fildes (1843-1927) oil on canvas, 1912, in the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London