by Alessandro Raho
oil on canvas, 2004
99 1/4 in. x 69 1/4 in. (2521 mm x 1759 mm)
Commissioned; made possible by J.P. Morgan through the Fund for New Commissions, 2004
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Raho has spoken of how he attempted to 'trap something I saw in Judi Dench while she waited in the foyer of the NPG, unaware of me'. The result is a portrayal of the actress in a role cast for her by the artist, highlighting the paradoxical ability of portraiture to make a picture of a person that is both a description of their appearance and a mask. Although photography is an integral part of his engagement with painting, the portrait retains painterly qualities such as the delicate brush strokes and soft tonal effect.