August 2010 Royal College of Surgeons breaks with tradition presenting Council portrait by emerging artist Jeremy Andrews
For more than 130 years, The Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS) has periodically commissioned a portrait of its current Council, traditionally selecting established portrait painters. However in a break from tradition, the College commissioned emerging portrait artist Jeremy Andrews for the 2010 portrait - a large scale, 4m by 1.6m canvas, depicting 28 very real, almost life size figures.
Andrews, whose portrait of artist Franko B was selected for the BP portrait Award in 2007, works in oils and uses traditional techniques such as under painting and glazes to create startling illusions of flesh and body mass. Andrews works meticulously to recreate what he sees. When approached for the Royal College of Surgeons commission he realised it would be a significant undertaking not least because the Council has 28 members, all of whom were to be included in the portrait. For Andrews this meant effectively 28 portraits to be completed in 18 months.
Speaking at the unveiling of the work, Jeremy Andrews said "I painted almost every single day since I began the work back in 2008, which has amounted to well over 500 days. I have to admit to feelings of both euphoria and relief now that the work is complete."
Andrews was inspired by the informal composition of a painting by John Singer Sargent, entitled Some General Officers of the Great War, which hangs in the National Portrait Gallery, London. He wanted to create that similar informal, formal portrait that details both the professional status of the subjects, but also the more informal nature of a group of people gathered together.
Briony Hudson, Director of Museums and Special Collections, said: " It is fantastic to acquire a new Council portrait, and all the more impressive due to the sheer physical presence of the work - 28 very real, almost life size figures looking out from the canvas. Jeremy Andrews' work is a striking addition to the College's existing fine art collection."
About the artist
Jeremy Andrews works in oils to commission from his studio in Cambridgeshire. His work is in several public and private collections. He was born in Colchester and studied Fine Art at Southampton Institute of Higher Education from 1993-96. Exhibitions include BP National Portrait Award Exhibition, The National Gallery, London 2001 and 2007; Royal Society of Portrait Painters, Mall Galleries, London 2001 and 20011; The Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh 2008; Mystery Portrait Postcard, National Portrait Gallery, London 2009.
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Notes to Editors
1. Members of the press interested in seeing or photographing the work should contact the College communications department. Elaine Towell E: firstname.lastname@example.org; T: 020 7869 6045. Images available on request.
2. For Jeremy Andrews please contact ; email@example.com
3. The Royal College of Surgeons of England is committed to enabling surgeons to achieve and maintain the highest standards of surgical practice and patient care. Registered charity number: 212808. For more information please visit www.rcseng.ac.uk