Friday, December 20, 2013

National Gallery hangs new Tony Blair portrait

A new portrait of ex Prime Minister Tony Blair by artist Alastair Adams, President of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, has been unveiled by The National Portrait Gallery, London.

NPG 6974: Anthonly Charles Lynton ('Tony') Blair (b.1953)
by Alastair Adams PRP (b.1969), 2013

Oil on board, 1221 x 920mm (48 1/8 x 36 1/4 ins)
© National Portrait Gallery, London
The portrait was commissioned by the NPG and follows the tradition that the Gallery should have a portrait of every Prime Minister.   I guess my only surprise is why this hasn't happened sooner - but I guess it must have been pretty difficult to pin him down to do the sittings.

I've not seen it yet but first impressions suggest it's an excellent portrait.  The pose is of a very direct "look you in the eyes" view which is very characteristic of the man himself.  It's also nice to see a portrait which is not too formal.

The four foot by three foot painting of Tony Blair by Alastair Adams is in Room 37 in the Ground Floor Lerner Contemporary Galleries at the National Portrait Gallery, London, from Friday 20 December, Admission Free.

Tony Blair has the unique distinction of being the longest-serving Labour Prime Minister and, to date, the youngest to take up office since 1812.  He led the Labour Party to victory in three General Elections before his resignation in 2007.

Alastair Adams (b. 1969) was elected a member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters in 2002.  In 2005 became the Society’s Treasurer. In 2008 he was made President, the youngest in the Society’s 122 year history.  He developed his interest in figurative and portrait painting which training as an illustrator. Since 1995 he has produced portraits of many notable subjects, though his approach is always the same. 
I believe in creating natural, unassuming paintings based on an incisive, observational drawing practice’.
He began the process of painting a portrait of Tony Blair in the spring of 2011. The first sittings took place at Tony Blair’s home, South Pavilion in Wotton Underwood, in Buckinghamshire - which used to be home to John Gielgud. He initially worked on sketches to establish a definitive pose. He next developed several portraits in oils and in graphite - working from life and using photographs for reference - before arriving at the one which has now taken its place in the Gallery.

For those interested in portraiture, Adams also holds a research based lecturing position at Loughborough University, practicing portraiture and publishing papers that examine commissioned portraiture, life drawing within a modern educational context, drawing and visualisation and facial difference. He is also a Co-Director of the contemporary drawing research group and journal, TRACEY.

Anybody wishing to see more of Alastair's work can do so via his web site or via his page on the Royal Society of Portrait Painters website.