King Charles’ first official portrait by Jonathan Yeo unveiled


Buckingham Palace unveiled the first official portrait of King Charles III since his coronation on Tuesday, and it is proving divisive with its sinister red brushstrokes.

The 8.5-foot by 6.5-foot painting is by British artist Jonathan Yeo, who has painted high-profile subjects throughout his career, including former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, actress Nicole Kidman and education activist Malala Yousafzai.

Yeo, who began the project while Charles was still Prince of Wales, depicts the monarch wearing the uniform of the Welsh Guards, sword in hand, against a fiery red background that almost seems to swallow him whole, while A butterfly seems about to fly away. land on his shoulder.

“Just like the butterfly I painted hovering over his shoulder, this portrait has evolved as the subject’s role in our public life has transformed,” Yeo said in a statement released by the Palace of Justice. Buckingham.

“I do my best to capture the life experiences etched on each goalkeeper’s face. In this case, my aim was also to reference the traditions of royal portraiture but in a way that reflects a 21st century monarchy and, above all, to communicate the deep humanity of the subject.

Yeo had four sessions with the king and also worked from drawings and photographs according to the palace.

Jonathan Yeo/PA/AP

Artist Jonathan Yeo’s oil on canvas portrait of King Charles III of Great Britain. The portrait was commissioned in 2020 to celebrate the then Prince of Wales’ 50 years as a member of The Drapers’ Company in 2022.

The work was commissioned to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Charles’ membership of The Drapers’ Company, which funds educational initiatives among other philanthropic efforts, and will be on display to the public from May 16 to June 14 at the Philip Mold Gallery in London. It will then hang in Drapers’ Hall from the end of August alongside other royal portraits.

The king and queen would be happy with the portrait – Yeo told the BBC. Camilla said: “Yes, you have it,” after seeing the result, while the monarch was “slightly surprised by the strong color, but otherwise seemed to be smiling with approval” – and there was no shortage of comments on the social networks.

Commenting under a publication of the portrait on the royal family’s Instagram account, a user wrote: “with the uniform and this color, it looks like (the) visual representation of the massacre caused by the colonizers”, and one of They said: “I would have loved this if it was any color other than red. It really captured the essence of her face, but the harshness of the red didn’t match the softness of her expression. Another post read: “Looks like he’s going straight to hell. »

Art historian Richard Morris said on This is what Yeo captures here.

Although the famous artist works mainly in oil, he has tried another medium: collage. In 2007, after a failed commission to paint former U.S. President George W. Bush, he decided to make an “ironic homage,” according to his website, by pasting clippings from hardcore pornographic magazines to create a portrait of the American president of the time. a satire on “the supposed moral superiority of the far right in American politics.”


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It was the first in a larger series depicting public figures “who have traded on their sexual morality”, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sarah Palin, Silvio Berlusconi and British conservative activist Mary Whitehouse.

As for the king’s portrait, Yeo said on his website that the bright colors of the glazes “not only resonate with the royal heritage found in many historical portraits, but also inject a dynamic, contemporary jolt into the genre with its uniform appearance “. powerful hue — providing a modern contrast to more traditional depictions.

He added that the butterfly symbolized beauty and nature while highlighting the king’s passion for the environment.

Yeo’s paintings are part of the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery in London.

The King is an artist himself and a collection of his watercolors was exhibited in London in 2022. He once described painting as “one of the most relaxing and therapeutic exercises I know”, adding that it ” refreshes parts of the soul that other activities cannot reach.

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With a penchant for words, Eleon Smith began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class. After interning at the New York Times, Smith landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim. Though writing is his passion, Eleon also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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