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Prince Charles

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Prince Charles

by Bryan Organ
acrylic on canvas, 1980
70 in. x 70 1/8 in. (1778 mm x 1782 mm)
Commissioned, 1980
Primary Collection
NPG 5365

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Bryan Organ (1935-), Painter. Artist of 16 portraits, Sitter in 6 portraits.

This portraitback to top

The first painted portrait of Prince Charles to enter the NPG collection was commissioned by the Gallery's Trustees in 1980. The following year the artist was commissioned to paint the Princess of Wales, shortly before her wedding. In this portrait the prince's relaxed presentation is strikingly modern. He wears polo clothes, a sport he played for forty years.

Related worksback to top

Linked publicationsback to top

  • I-Spy National Portrait Gallery, 2010, p. 51
  • The British Portrait, 1660-1960, 1991, p. 418 number 403
  • Cannadine, Sir David (Introduction); Cooper, Tarnya; Stewart, Louise; MacGibbon, Rab; Cox, Paul; Peltz, Lucy; Moorhouse, Paul; Broadley, Rosie; Jascot-Gill, Sabina, Tudors to Windsors: British Royal Portraits, 2018 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, USA, 7 October 2018 -3 February 2019. Bendigo Art Gallery, Australia, 16 March - 14 July 2019.), p. 220 Read entry

    Bryan Organ's portrait of Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II, was commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery in 1980. The artist's portrait of Lady Diana Spencer (as she was before her marriage) was commissioned the following year as a companion piece, made to mark the couple's engagement. Based on sittings, studies and photographs, both portraits are relatively informal and utterly devoid of royal regalia - the Prince of Wales wears his polo clothes - and the only indication of the prince's royal identity is the presence of the Union Jack flag in the background, while the setting for the portrait of Lady Diana was the Yellow Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace.

    When Lady Diana's portrait was unveiled just days before her wedding at St Paul's Cathedral, press attention focused on the unusual depiction of a female member of the royal family in trousers - a foretaste of what was to become a media obsession with the Princess of Wales's clothes and appearance. Within months of its unveiling, the portrait had been slashed as a political protest over British involvement in Ireland, but was successfully restored, the damage remaining only barely perceptible. The royal couple had two sons, Princes William and Harry, but their marriage was dissolved in 1996, a year before Diana, Princess of Wales, was tragically killed in a car crash.

  • Cooper, John, Great Britons: The Great Debate, 2002, p. 158
  • Gibson, Robin, Treasures from the National Portrait Gallery, 1996, p. 123
  • Gibson, Robin; Clerk, Honor, 20th Century Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery Collection, 1993, p. 4
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 117
  • Williamson, David, Kings and Queens, 2010, p. 166
  • Williamson, David, The National Portrait Gallery: History of the Kings and Queens of England, 1998, p. 167

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Events of 1980back to top

Current affairs

Margaret Thatcher makes one of her most famous speeches, living up to her nickname of 'the Iron Lady'. The speech was given to the Conservative Party conference in Brighton in response to the media speculation that the party would go back on its counter-inflationary policies: 'The lady's not for turning!'

Art and science

John Lennon is murdered on the steps of his house. After fatally shooting him, Mark David Chapman calmly sat down on the pavement and waited to be arrested by police. Chapman had a history of mental illness and claimed that he had committed the murder as a way of getting attention.

International

Iraq invades Iran, beginning eight years of conflict. The invasion followed years of border disputes, but was precipitated by the 1979 revolution in Iran and the resulting instability which Saddam Hussein saw as an opportunity to expand Iraqi influence in the region. Despite early gains for Iraq, the conflict soon descended into a war of attrition with huge causalities caused by Iraq's use of chemical weapons.

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