by Tom Phillips
oil on canvas, 1984-1986
36 in. x 28 in. (914 mm x 711 mm)
Sitterback to top
- Dame (Jean) Iris Murdoch (1919-1999), Novelist and philosopher. Sitter in 35 portraits.
This portraitback to top
The portrait was painted in the artist's London studio. In the background is a detail from Titian's Flaying of Marsyas, a painting exhibited at the Royal Academy at the time artist and sitter met and the subject of conversations between them. Phillips described Murdoch as 'a luminous presence…an electric light-bulb in that gloomy corner, glowing, casting out darkness'.
Related worksback to top
- NPG 5944(1): Iris Murdoch (study)
- NPG 5944(2): Iris Murdoch (study)
- NPG 5944(3): Iris Murdoch (study)
- NPG 5944(4): Iris Murdoch (study)
- NPG 5944(5): Iris Murdoch (study)
- NPG 5944(6): Iris Murdoch (study)
- NPG 5944(7): Iris Murdoch (study)
- NPG 5944(8): Study of 'The Flaying of Marsyas' by Titian (study)
Linked publicationsback to top
- Audio Guide
- Gibson, Robin; Clerk, Honor, 20th Century Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery Collection, 1993, p. 7
- Saumarez Smith, Charles, The National Portrait Gallery: An Illustrated Guide, 2000, p. 222
- Saumarez Smith, Charles, The National Portrait Gallery, 1997, p. 222
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 449
- Simon, Jacob, The Art of the Picture Frame: Artists, Patrons and the Framing of Portraits in Britain, 1997 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 8 November 1996 - 9 February 1997), p. 189, 190
Placesback to top
- Place made: United Kingdom: England, London (artist's studio, Bellenden Road, Peckham, London)
Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top
- Artists and sitters (From 21 April 2007)
- Icons and Idols: Commissioning Contemporary Portraits (2 March 2006 - 18 June 2006)
- Britain 1960-1990 (From 18 September 2004)
Subjects & Themesback to top
Events of 1984back to top
Current affairsThe Provisional IRA bomb the Grand Hotel in Brighton where various politicians, including the Prime Minister, where staying for the annual Conservative Party conference. The bomb killed five people including a conservative MP, but no members of the cabinet. Thatcher began the next session of the conference the following morning at 9.30 as planned saying: 'all attempts to destroy democracy by terrorism will fail.'
Art and scienceDr Alec Jeffreys discovers that patterns in an individual's DNA can be identified and that each person has a unique 'genetic fingerprint'. The technique was soon utilised by forensic scientists to help in criminal investigations, and in order to identify human remains, for paternity testing, and to match organ donors.
Ted Hughes is appointed poet Laureate.
InternationalEthiopia suffers severe drought and famine. The Ethiopian government responded by uprooting large numbers of peasants in the worst affected areas and by setting up new villages for the displaced people. However, the planned villages were frequently poorly equipped and many people chose to flee rather than acquiesce with government plans leading to further decline in food production and bringing the total death toll to over 1 million.
See this portrait
On display at Beningbrough Hall