Johnson Gideon Beharry
Johnson Gideon Beharry
by Emma Wesley
acrylic on panel, 2006
31 5/8 in. x 13 1/4 in. (804 mm x 336 mm)
Sitterback to top
- Johnson Gideon Beharry (1979-), Soldier; recipient of the Victoria Cross. Sitter in 2 portraits.
This portraitback to top
Wesley has depicted Beharry in full military dress.
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- Cooper, John, A Guide to the National Portrait Gallery, 2009, p. 60 Read entry
Born in Grenada, Lance Corporal Beharry served in the British Army in Iraq. On two occasions in 2004 he showed astonishing bravery saving the lives of comrades. He was severely wounded. He is the first person in the British army since 1965 to be awarded the Victoria Cross while still living.
- Howgate, Sarah; Nairne, Sandy, A Guide to Contemporary Portraits, 2009, p. 37 Read entry
Lance Corporal Beharry (b. 1979) is the first person since 1965 to be awarded the Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest award for gallantry, and its youngest living recipient. This is a portrait of a soldier, the crossed hands echoing the form of the medal that he wears, its vivid pink ribbon used by the artist effectively to colour the whole portrait.
- Various contributors, National Portrait Gallery: A Portrait of Britain, 2014, p. 271 Read entry
Lance Corporal Beharry is the first living British person to be awarded the Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest award for gallantry, since 1965. Born in Grenada, the fourth of eight children, Beharry came to Britain to stay with his grandparents at the age of twenty. He worked as a handyman and decorator in Hounslow before joining the British Army in 2001 as part of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment. After training, in April 2004 he was posted to Iraq. There, under intense enemy fire, Beharry saved the lives of thirty of his fellow soldiers, sustaining considerable injuries in the process that have prevented him from returning to active service. The sittings for this portrait took place in Beharry’s London flat in late summer, with Beharry wearing full military dress.
Artist Emma Wesley (b.1979) has exhibited widely and shown regularly with the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and in the BP Portrait Award annual exhibition. Her intention was to convey her subject’s ‘modesty, generosity, humility and humour’, and she achieved this by adding an element of informality, portraying Beharry with his cap resting on his lap, revealing his facial battle scars, and his crossed hands echoing the shape of the medal he wears.