Ken Dodd

1 portrait

Ken Dodd, by David Cobley, 2004 - NPG 6702 - © David Cobley / National Portrait Gallery, London

© David Cobley / National Portrait Gallery, London

Ken Dodd

by David Cobley
oil on canvas, 2004
30 in. x 36 in. (762 mm x 914 mm)
Purchased, 2005
Primary Collection
NPG 6702


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The portrait was worked up from preparatory drawings and oil sketches made on the basis of several meetings with the subject. Cobley, who describes his picture as 'an affectionate tribute', shows Dodd backstage. Though out of costume and make up, he suggests the experience of viewing him on stage, through the performative gesture reflected in the mirror both in front and behind him. Cobley emphasises Dodd's features; known for his gigantic smile and trademark teeth, he was once described as capable of conveying 'every expression available to the human face'. The portrait however reveals the vulnerability of the weary-looking comic. The complex relationship between on and off stage persona is also suggested by the pink tickling stick in the bottom right corner of the painting and the flash of hot pink shirt visible in the mirror though not actually seen in the dressing room. Cobley was shortlisted for the Holburne Portrait Prize in 2004 for this portrait of Ken Dodd.

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