Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Blair portrait to go on public show

Portrait of former prime minister Tony Blair which will hang in Royal Society Of Portrait Painters Annual Open Exhibition, at the Mall Galleries, London

A portrait of former prime minister Tony Blair will go on public display for the first time later this month.

The image, by president of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Alastair Adams, shows the casually-dressed premier in the office of his home in Buckinghamshire.

Mr Blair, wearing jeans, an open-necked polo shirt and a jacket, is seen posed in front of a painting by Ken Howard, who documented the Troubles in Northern Ireland for the Imperial War Museum.

Mr Adams, who was commissioned to paint the former premier by the National Portrait Gallery (NPG), said he wanted to capture Mr Blair as he was on a "day-to-day basis".

Another of Mr Adams' portraits of Mr Blair hangs at the NPG, but the image going on display later this month was in the artist's private collection.

The painting will form part of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters' annual open exhibition which opens at the Mall Galleries in London on May 8.

Mr Adams said: "I wanted to paint him as he was on a day-to-day basis when I visited to undertake sittings for the formal NPG commission.

"The work was completed during the Olympics and the strong presence of the Union flag seemed to fit the occasion.

"He was a compliant sitter and was happy to pose for me however I saw fit, no strings attached."

The painting by Mr Howard behind Mr Blair depicts a Northern Ireland mural bearing the slogan "no surrender" and a Union flag.

Mr Adams said it was hanging in the former prime minister's office and made an "interesting backdrop" to the portrait.

He said: "It reflects his work back in the day on the Northern Ireland peace process."

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