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Damien Hirst - The Empresses

These limited edition prints constructed of beautiful images of red butterfly wings, intricately arranged with a filigree of red glitter to produce kaleidoscope-like effects. The prints are named after five exceptional female rulers from history: Wu Zetian, Nur Jahan, Theodora, Suiko and Taytu Betul. Their characters and stories are enhanced by the dominant red tone of the series, which deals with themes such as life, war, power, joy and luck.

Since the beginning of his career, Hirst has made the butterfly one of his best-known motifs. The Empresses prints are symmetrical and asymmetrical, with meticulously organised spirals of butterfly prints. The laminated Giclée print is screen printed with glitter, which allows the butterfly wings to be presented in such detail that they appear lifelike. Glitter is loved for its playfulness – echoing the play-on-words of the series title itself, which alludes to both female rulers and the Empress Butterfly.