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Willard White

Willard White, by Ishbel Myerscough, 2009 - NPG 6886 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Willard White

by Ishbel Myerscough
oil on canvas, 2009
30 in. x 22 1/8 in. (762 mm x 562 mm)
Commissioned; made possible by J.P. Morgan through the Fund for New Commissions, 2009
Primary Collection
NPG 6886

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This portrait was painted from life and sittings were staged at the singer's London home. Myerscough has commented that 'Like hairdressers painting a portrait permits one to have an unusual intimacy with one’s subject...'.

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  • 100 Portraits, p. 147
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  • Various contributors, National Portrait Gallery: A Portrait of Britain, 2014, p. 276 Read entry

    Willard White is an internationally acclaimed opera singer. Born in Jamaica, he made his debut at the New York City Opera and is now based in London. He has sung all the major bass-baritone roles in the repertoire, including Duke Bluebeard in Bluebeard’s Castle by Bartók, Wotan in Wagner’s Ring Cycle and Porgy in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. He has performed with the world’s leading conductors and orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic under Sir Simon Rattle. In Britain, White has performed at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden and the English National Opera, and has appeared as a soloist at numerous BBC Proms.

    The artist Ishbel Myerscough (b.1968) had several sittings with the singer at his London home, where she was privileged to hear her sitter in the incongruity of a domestic setting. Recording her experience for the Gallery in 2009, she wrote that White ‘would warm up his voice by exercising it as he walked around the house doing jobs, such as going to make a cup of coffee or adjusting the heating. He never sang to me or indeed in the same room as me, but I could hear him wherever he was in the house.’

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