A new portrait of Tony Blair is unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery in London – the public reaction* has been, shall we say, … mixed

Tony Blair portrait

A rather … jarring painting of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, by painter Alastair Adams, was unveiled last week at London’s National Portrait Gallery. The work, based on one sitting and several photographs, which measures 3 feet by 4 feet, depicts Blair staring fiercely at the viewer.

The Week reports that Sarah Howgate, National Portrait Gallery Curator, told ITV “The direct gaze of the sitter is uncompromising but also reflects his considerable skill as a negotiator on the world stage. The gallery is now able to represent Tony Blair with a portrait consonant with the personality of an individual who has considerably shaped the political, economic and cultural climate of Britain.”

*Reactions have been mixed… or rather not so mixed, with the majority of Guardian commenters (perhaps a little all too predictably) viciously attacking on the portrait and maligning the subject. In keeping with the high journalism standards we at Art is Life champion, we reprint – without commenting – some of the 500+ Guardian reader comments; the commenter’s names appear below in bold:

Inchpractice: “It might have been more realistic if they had painted him eating on the flesh of a baby who did not believe in Jesus.” Mjhunbeliever: “That’s the best portrait that I have seen in modern times. It describes at a glance the face of duplicity.” CroatianRoger: “A great painting, captures the arrogance, the ego, the madness, yet manages to convey the pettiness and small mindedness as well.” JeffinToronto: “It needs prison bars in the foreground.” BrianHarry: “………And the Pope fast tracked Blairs application to become a Catholic, and, rather tellingly ignored the fact that Blair was one of two war criminals who, under false pretences, smashed the country of Iraq killing 1,000,000 people in the process, not to mention the dead and injured British, American, and allied troops as well………unbelievable, but true…….” RobespierreRules: “Well I know pornography when I see it.” RobM329: “I’ll give it two months before this is defaced. My money is on red paint.” OhSuitsYouSir: “I’ve never read so many stupid comments about what is in fact a very good painting” Ibby129: “He looks like he’s just accidentally killed someone, but realised that he quite likes how it makes him feel.” Dangtangy: “An extraordinary rendition” RabidMale: “He looks like Prince Charles.” IgnatiusJWryly: “Prince Charles is a Fucking Dreamboat compared to this Knee-Crawling Hague Dodger…”

You get the general idea… but if you really must, you can read the rest of the Guardian reader comments on the article, linked here.

Visit the National Portrait Gallery’s official website, linked here.

We invite you to let us know your thoughts in the comments section below, or you can write to us at info@artislimited.com.

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One thought on “A new portrait of Tony Blair is unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery in London – the public reaction* has been, shall we say, … mixed

  1. I say leave the man alone. He wasn’t the best, and certainly not the worst, leader of a nation in recent decades. I’d say if anything it speaks to me of a man desperately trying to explain decisions that he knows only too well he knew were flawed at the time he made them, but as with all humans is damned if he’s going to admit it.
    As for all the internet warriors bravely sticking in the boot I’d ask them to reveal their own shortcomings and failures before being so almighty arrogant in freely expressing their malicious opinions.
    But as art I think it’s pretty good. Again, could our blood curdling internet cyber warriors do anything better?
    The internet… the best of times, and the worst of times.

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