by Tom Phillips
54 1/2 in. x 40 in. (1384 mm x 1016 mm)
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Sitterback to top
- Dame (Jean) Iris Murdoch (1919-1999), Novelist and philosopher. Sitter in 35 portraits.
This portraitback to top
Iris Murdoch was already a lecturer in philosophy and the author of Sartre, Romantic Rationalist (1953) by the time her first novel, Under the Net, was published in 1954. Later works include The Bell (1958), A Severed Head (1961), The Sea, The Sea (Booker Prize, 1978) and The Good Apprentice (1986). This drawing is one of four large-scale studies of the sitter made by the artist in connection with the portrait of Murdoch commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery. They were done by Phillips from memory when, half-way through the oil painting, he found himself losing his original impression of the writer as a luminous presence. The drawings are named after the four elements; this one is 'Fire'.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 449
Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top
Portrait setback to top
Events of 1986back to top
Current affairsHampton Court Palace is devastated by fire. Much of the third floor and the roof of the building were destroyed, although, thanks to the courage of the fire fighters, only one painting and one piece of furniture were ruined.
Prince Andrew, Duke of York, marries Sarah Ferguson at Westminster Abbey.
Art and sciencePoems on the Underground, the brainchild of American writer Judith Chernaik, is launched by London Underground. A rolling programme of poems is displayed in tube train carriages, bringing contemporary and classic poetry to commuters.
The Independent Newspaper is first published.
Artists, Gilbert and George win the Turner Prize.
InternationalAn explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power station leads to nuclear meltdown in the reactor and causes massive nuclear contamination over Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, western Europe, the UK and Ireland, and even North America. The 2005 Chenobyl Forum attributed 56 direct deaths to the disaster and estimated that 9,000 people may die from some form of cancer as a result of exposure to radiation.
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Help us conserve a portrait of a female adventurer, poet and medical pioneer