by John Bellany
oil on canvas, 1985
68 in. x 60 in. (1727 mm x 1524 mm)
This portraitback to top
The portrait by the then little-known Scottish painter caused considerable controversy and was voted 'rubbish' by the sitter's tabloid fans.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Gibson, Robin; Clerk, Honor, 20th Century Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery Collection, 1993, p. 36 Read entry
England's greatest and most controversial all-rounder this century, Botham made his test début against the Australians in 1977 and on his first day took five wickets for 74. The records accumulated relentlessly throughout his test and county career: the first player to score a century and take eight wickets in an innings against Pakistan in 1978; 1000 runs and 100 wickets in the fewest test matches; the most in a first class season (1985). Most memorable was the Ashes series against Australia in 1981, in which Botham scored centuries at Headingley and Old Trafford and took five wickets for one run at Edgbaston, securing England's victory.
The portrait, commissioned by the Gallery's Trustees, has attracted heated debate since its unveiling in 1985. As with the commissions he has undertaken of other popular heroes (such as Sean Connery painted for the Scottish National Portrait Gallery), John Bellany has produced a subjective image in his own style, making no concessions to the expectations of the sitter's natural audience.
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 68
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Subjects & Themesback to top
Events of 1985back to top
Current affairs55 people die in the Manchester air disaster when a British Airtours Boeing 737 bursts into flames after an aborted takeoff at Manchester International Airport.
Art and scienceBob Geldof and Midge Ure organise Live Aid, a rock concert in London and Philadelphia, to raise funds for famine relief. The biggest names in popular music, including Paul McCartney, Queen, Status Quo, The Police, Mick Jagger, David Bowie, U2, The Who, and Led Zeppelin, performed to a TV audience of 1.5 billion.
The British Antarctic Survey discovers a hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica.
InternationalReformer Mikhail Gorbachev comes to power as first secretary of the Soviet Communist party. He calls for 'glasnost' (openness) in Soviet life, and pursues a policy of 'perestroika' (reconstruction).
French intelligence operatives sabotage Rainbow Warrior, the Greenpeace vessel. The ship was leading a protest against French nuclear testing in New Zealand when it was bombed and sunk, killing one of the twelve on board.
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