Archive for the ‘shadow’ Tag

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Bill Clinton portrait by Nelson Shanks, from the National Portrait Gallery

Bill Clinton portrait by Nelson Shanks, from the National Portrait Gallery

Yesterday, this blog set a record for traffic. One particular page got most of the views: the Bill Clinton page from my Presidential Portraits series.

What happened?

There was big news yesterday about the Clinton portrait by Nelson Shanks that hangs in the National Portrait Gallery.

Mr. Shanks revealed an “Easter egg” in the painting … a 10-year old secret that only he knew until yesterday.

The secret? He had put a blue dress on a mannequin to cast a shadow onto the scene he was painting – all while Clinton was not in the room posing for him. This blue dress shadow, which is memorialized below the plant on the mantle to the viewer’s left of Clinton, represents the Monica Lewinsky scandal to Mr. Shanks.

So, yesterday he revealed why there was a shadow in the painting. This announcement did a few things:

  • explained the reason for a shadow across the portrait (me, I just thought it was art).
  • re-invigorated the Monica Lewinsky scandal for Mr Shanks’ gain
  • made his future employment by any prominent person suspect … I mean, who needs this kind of grief when you’re paying a portraitist as much as $200,000 for a full length painting?

I’m sure President Clinton regrets posing for the obviously untrustworthy Shanks. I don’t know who actually paid for this portrait (paintings of Presidents for the National Portrait Gallery or the White House – the two most prominent collections – are often paid for by anonymous donors), but I’m sure they regret that decision as well.


Portraits: Bill Clinton

NBC News: Bill Clinton Portrait Has Hidden Monica Lewinsky Portrait Bill Clinton’s Portrait Includes Symbolic Nod To Lewinsky Affair