The first official portrait of King Charles III has been unveiled—though the new monarch did not sit for the artist Alastair Barford who instead chose to “study the King while he was busying himself at a Buckingham Palace reception [in February]”, reports the Express newspaper. Barford also used photographs from the global biodiversity event at the palace to complete his rather traditional portrait which shows the royal in a regular suit rather than ceremonial robes, wearing a bracelet presented by the Amazon indigenous leader, Domingo Peas. The new stately painting, completed in two weeks, is the cover image on the Illustrated London News special Coronation edition (you can also bag it for the right royal sum of £54 on the art and craft website, Etsy).
Barford tells us: "The problem wasn't so much the lack of painting hours. It was, that I felt that as I had such a tight time frame to get the work done in, I felt I had to work on the portrait pretty much all day everyday. I felt guilty if I spent any time not working on the picture! I'm used to having much longer to work on a portrait and this created certain technical problems; an oil painting needs time to dry." He adds: "I also came to realise that the time we spend away from our work, the time we spend thinking about and processing what we are doing but not necessarily painting, is a hugely important part of the process."
The UK government has meanwhile run into a spot of bother over plans to offer every public body in the country a free portrait of the King—at a cost of £8m. “These new portraits will serve as a visible reminder in buildings up and down the country of the nation’s ultimate public servant,” said Oliver Dowden, the cabinet office minister. But Graham Smith from the anti-monarchy Republic group called the move “a shameful waste of money”. Barford’s picture is not, incidentally, among the portraits on offer to town halls and libraries up and down the country.