New portrait of Maggie Smith unveiled

April 10 2013

Image of New portrait of Maggie Smith unveiled

Picture: National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery has unveiled a new portrait of Dame Maggie Smith, and it is not good. It is, though, better than the portrait of Kate, so small mercies and all that.

The portrait of Dame Maggie is by James Lloyd. I used to be quite a fan of Lloyd. His early work, like the 1998 portrait of Paul Smith at the NPG, demonstrated inventive compositions and sharp-eyed characterisation. I even remember a long time ago, when I was working at the House of Commons, talking to him about a commission to paint Tony Blair. But sadly his most recent work is not nearly so good. His 2007 portrait of Kenneth Clarke, for example, is a poor likeness, and could be just about anyone's grandparent. You could probably say the same about his Maggie Smith too. The NPG needs to find some better portraitists, and fast. 

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