Jan Morris

1 portrait

Jan Morris, by Arturo Di Stefano, 2004-2005 - NPG 6722 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Jan Morris

by Arturo Di Stefano
oil on canvas, 2004-2005
46 in. x 48 in. (1168 mm x 1219 mm)
Commissioned, 2005
Primary Collection
NPG 6722


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  • Jan Morris (1926-), Writer. Sitter in 2 portraits.

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Di Stefano's research for the portrait began with him making a journey to Jan Morris's beloved home in Wales. Morris then made a number of visits to Di Stefano's studio, where the artist worked first on preparatory sketches and then the painting from life. The subject played an important part in the painting's development and entered into the process with great gusto. Artist and sitter got on very well, sharing a love of Italy (Di Stefano's parents are both from Southern Italy). From the beginning she had requested 'an allegorical landscape of the imagination', and the inclusion of her Norwegian cat Ibsen, was non-negotiable. The landscape beyond the studio window includes references to Wales, Venice, Trieste, Manhattan, and Everest, all significant places in Morris's personal history. Also symbolic of her travels is the scrunched up hotel napkin she holds - which doubles up as a handkerchief. Typical of Di Stefano's artistic practice, he has used wet on wet with a glaze. His painting process relies in part on chance and accident, using Japanese paper to lift the surface of the wet paint, creating a palimpsest effect. Morris has described sitting for the portrait as 'life enhancing' and 'one of the happiest experiences of my life'.

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