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Johnson Gideon Beharry

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Johnson Gideon Beharry

by Emma Wesley
acrylic on panel, 2006
31 5/8 in. x 13 1/4 in. (804 mm x 336 mm)
Commissioned, 2006
Primary Collection
NPG 6803

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Emma Wesley (1979-), Artist. Artist or producer of 2 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Wesley has depicted Beharry in full military dress.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Audio Guide
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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.

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Events of 2006back to top

Current affairs

The Loans for Peerages affair erupts after four businessmen who gave unpublished loans to the Labour Party are nominated for peerages. The scandal revealed a legal loophole: while political parties must declare all large donations, they were not required to declare loans. This led the Police to investigate whether the parties had broken the 1925 Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act, and to Lord Levy and Tony Blair.

Art and science

A year of blockbuster exhibitions including Modernism at the Victoria and Albert Museum, a Surrealism exhibition at the Haywood Gallery, Michaelangelo Drawings at the British Museum, Valezqueth at the National Gallery, Rodin at the Royal Academy, Holbein at Tate Britain, and David Hockney Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery.


Following the kidnapping of two Israeli Soldiers by Lebanese Hezbollah militants, Israel launches a heavy artillery attack and ground invasion on Lebanon. In response Hezbollah launched rockets into northern Israel and engaged the Israeli Defence Forces in guerrilla warfare. The conflict ended after claiming over 1500 lives - mostly Lebanese civilians - with a UN resolution calling for Hezbollah's disarmament and Israel's withdrawal of troops from Lebanon.

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