Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Pope Benedict XVI: the first official portrait

Michael Noakes is a portrait and landscape painter who has painted everyone from the Queen, Prime Ministers and Presidents to famous actors.

He has just painted the first official formal portrait of Pope Benedict XVI which is being exhibited at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition, Mall Galleries, London from 26th April – 13th May 2007.

The Pope’s only suggestion was that the picture ought to show him with his mouth closed.

For Noakes, he came over as a slightly shy man: “I wanted to imply that. He also smiles a great deal, but it’s an oil painting and is going to be around as part of the records for a long time. So I made him look cheerful, with a degree of gravitas and a bit of a twinkle.”

Noakes has been President of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters and Chairman of the Contemporary Portrait Society. He is a Member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and a Freeman of the City of London. Himself a Catholic, he is also a past President of the Society of Catholic Artists

In the Catholic world, Michael has painted Cardinal Basil Hume and his portrait of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor was completed last year to hang in the Cardinal's Corridor of the English College in Rome.

He has painted many of the world's leading figures. Among those who have sat for him are the Queen, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, the Prince of Wales and the Princess Royal, as well as most other members of the Royal Family.

He was commissioned to paint Margaret Thatcher when she was Prime Minister.

He has also painted President Clinton, making preparatory studies with the President in the Oval Office - one of only very few painters to have been given such access to any President of the United States.

See also

The Times: Artist asked to paint Pope adds ‘gravitas and bit of a twinkle’

Official Michael Noakes site