REMBRANDT, Caravaggio, Rubens and now Hanrahan. Irish artist Michael Hanrahan visited Buckingham Palace in London yesterday to personally deliver his oil painting commemorating Queen Elizabeth's historic visit to Ireland.
It will now form part of the British Royal Collection, which includes works by the old masters.
"It is amongst many, many famous paintings going back hundreds of years so it's in good company," joked Mr Hanrahan as he left the palace.
The artist, from Lahinch in Co Clare, was accompanied by his daughters, Sinead, Aisling and Orla, and son Daniel, for the once-in-a-lifetime visit.
Unfortunately the queen was not at home to receive her Irish guests as she is on her annual summer break in Balmoral. However, the Hanrahans were greeted by her secretary and the chief clerk of the palace who held a special reception in their honour.
They arrived at Heathrow yesterday and were chauffeur driven in a Bentley -- laid on by Mayo property developer Tom O'Brien, a friend of Mr Hanrahan -- to the palace, where they arrived at noon.
Speaking to the Irish Independent last night, Mr Hanrahan said: "There were thousands of people outside the palace and we were driven in through security and brought in for tea and biscuits and entertained by the queen's secretary and the chief clerk of the palace."
"It was just a magnificent day and a huge highlight in my career as an artist," said Mr Hanrahan.
"It felt very special walking through the corridors of the palace. We saw some places a lot of people may never see. We saw the rooms where Obama stayed recently," he added.
The painting depicts the queen and President Mary McAleese in sombre contemplation during a wreath-laying ceremony at the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin.
Mr Hanrahan said the palace officials were aware of the significance of the garden in Ireland.
"They said that this visit she paid to Ireland, in her own words, was the most important royal visit in her reign," he added.
The painting will go into the royal collection and while no decisions have been made as to where it will be hung, it could form part of a UK-wide tour of the collection, which is being organised to mark the queen's diamond jubilee.
"They feel my painting is historical and has special significance in Anglo-Irish relations," said Mr Hanrahan.
Six other paintings of the visit will be auctioned in the RDS, Dublin, on October 10.