Germaine Greer

1 portrait on display in Room 36 at the National Portrait Gallery

Germaine Greer, by Paula Rego, 1995 - NPG 6351 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Germaine Greer

by Paula Rego
pastel on paper laid on aluminium, 1995
47 1/4 in. x 43 3/4 in. (1200 mm x 1111 mm)
Commissioned, 1995
Primary Collection
NPG 6351

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Sitterback to top

  • Germaine Greer (1939-), Writer and broadcaster; Professor of English and Comparative Studies. Sitter in 9 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • Paula Rego (1935-), Artist. Artist of 2 portraits, Sitter in 3 portraits.

This portraitback to top

This portrait of Germaine Greer by Paula Rego is one of the most successful - and popular - of the Gallery's commissions. Although Paula Rego does not normally accept commissions, she agreed to paint Germaine Greer, the most public advocate of feminism and author of The Female Eunuch. This was partly because Greer had been a long-standing supporter of Rego's work, having written an introductory essay to a catalogue of her paintings when she was artist-in-residence at the National Gallery. Arrangements were made for sittings to take place at Rego's studio in Camden Town during the hot August of 1995. Greer was wearing her favourite Jean Muir dress and old, gold shoes and her hands were rough from gardening. In all they had thirty hours of sittings and listened to the entire Ring cycle. The result is a powerful example of contemporary portraiture: vigorous, straightforward, but monumental as well. The portrait's lack of flattery appeals to Greer: 'A portrait that is kind is condescending. The last thing I would want is for Paula to condescend to me, and it's the last thing she would think of doing.'

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