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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This portraitback to top
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.
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Subjects & Themesback to top
Events of 2004back to top
Current affairsArmed robbers raid the Northern Bank in Belfast, stealing £26.5 million. Gunmen entered the homes of two bank officials, kidnapping their families and forcing them to let them into the bank, before loaded cash into vans and drove off. Police and the British and Irish governments claimed that the Provisional IRA was responsible and several of the people arrested had PIRA, Real IRA and Sinn Féin connections.
Art and scienceA fire at Charles Saatchi's art warehouse destroys some of the icons of Brit Art. Hell by Jake and Dinos Chapman, Everyone I Have Ever Slept With and The Hut by Tracey Emin and works by Damien Hirst, Chris Ofili, Sarah Lucas, Gavin Hume and Rachel Whiteread were among the casualties.
InternationalAn earthquake in the Indian Ocean on Boxing Day causes a tsunami that kills nearly 230,000 people when it hit the coasts of Southeast Asia. The earthquake itself was the second most powerful ever recorded on a seismograph and waves from the tsunami - the most devastating in history - were up to 30 metres high.
See this portrait
On display in Room 36 at the National Portrait Gallery