by Arturo Di Stefano
oil on canvas, 2004-2005
46 in. x 48 in. (1168 mm x 1219 mm)
This portraitback to top
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'.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Tinker, Christopher, Speak its Name! - Quotations by and about Gay Men and Women, 2016, p. 178
Placesback to top
Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top
- Recent commissions and acquisitions (20 July 2005 - 25 September 2005)
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 loading cash into vans and driving away. 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.
Become a Member
Enjoy access to special events, discounts on the Gallery online shop, supporters’ updates and much more
Bringing people together by sharing the portraits and stories of the men and women who have shaped our nation.
Sign up to receive information on exhibitions, collections and activities of the National Portrait Gallery, including special offers, shop products, and exclusive competitions.
Tell us more
Framed & unframed prints
Choose your favourite portrait from our Collection as a framed or unframed print for your home.