Tony Blair: National Portrait Gallery's 'mad eyes' picture

Portrait of former PM shows 'uncompromising' gaze says curator, but reactions from public are mixed

LAST UPDATED AT 12:39 ON Fri 20 Dec 2013

A CONFRONTING painting of former PM Tony Blair has been unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery.

The picture, which measures 4ft by 3ft was painted by artist Alastair Adams. He began work on the portrait two years ago by conducting "several sitting's at Mr Blair's home", ITV reports.

Curator Sarah Howgate told ITV: "The direct gaze of the sitter is uncompromising but also reflects his [Blair's] considerable skill as a negotiator on the world stage. The gallery is now able to represent Tony Blair with a portrait consonant with the personality of an individual who has considerably shaped the political, economic and cultural climate of Britain."

Reactions to the portrait on social media were mixed. A user posting as Becky Barnicoat tweeted: "Looks like a caricature. The mad eyes and pointy ears are pure Steve Bell."

But Kevin Kane tweeted that Adams' work was "a great painting" regardless of "your politics".  · 

Disqus - noscript

That is why Steve Bell is the greatest living caricaturist - gets the essence of all his targets. Having fled the thatcher years I found on my return a decade later than I could recognise her maniacal minions in the flesh solely from having followed his brilliant "IF" strip whilst in exile.

Tony Blair: National Portrait Gallery's 'mad eyes' picture.
I am a hobby artist and nobody likes my paintings and so Mr. Adams, if I may call colleague, should understand my remarks. I miss the boss-eyed bit and the Vampire Fangs. The anatomy of the ears admittedly is a medical problem but should not be protected from art.

Adams' brilliant painting has captured the B movie likeness, of Blair,s Dracula gaze, to perfection.

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.

Read more about