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Pietro Annigoni (1910-1988)


Signed with monogram

Watercolour, bodycolour, pencil and chalk

29 ½ x 17 ¾ inches

'A Century of British Art: 1945-2010', Chris Beetles Gallery, London, October-November 2021, no 259

In 1962, Pietro Annigoni received a commission from James Burrough Ltd to produce a new image of a 'beefeater', or Yeoman Warder, for the advertisements and labels of Beefeater Gin. This marked an expansion of the distillery company in 1963, a century after James Burrough had founded it in Chelsea, London, and 73 years after he had begun to make gin under the Beefeater name. By 1963, Beefeater accounted for three out of every four bottles of gin imported into the United States. In that year, it was the only gin chosen to be on board for the maiden voyage of the Queen Elizabeth II to New York.

Alan Burrough, the then Chairman of James Burrough Ltd, certainly posed with Annigoni's drawing for a photograph by John Knoote that appeared in
Newsweek, among other periodicals, in 1963. However, it seems as if the label and advertising continued to carry the existing image of a beefeater rather than Annigoni's 'roguish new portrait' (as it was described by a Newsweek journalist).

Beefeater is the popular name for the Yeomen Warders of Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London. The Yeomen Warders were formed in 1485 by King Henry VIl, and have guarded the Tower of London since 1509. They are commonly identified by their red and gold dress uniforms. The derivation of their popular name has been disputed, but is likely to derive from their diet of beef and of broths made of that meat.

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