Shami Chakrabarti

© National Portrait Gallery, London

4 Likes voting
is closed

Thanks for Liking

Please Like other favourites!
If they inspire you please support our work.

Buy a print Buy a greetings card Make a donation Close

Shami Chakrabarti

by Gillian Wearing
gelatin silver print, 2011
36 5/8 in. x 31 1/2 in. (929 mm x 800 mm)
Commissioned; made possible by J.P. Morgan through the Fund for New Commissions, 2011
Primary Collection
NPG 6923

On display in Room 32 on Floor 1 at the National Portrait Gallery

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Gillian Wearing (1963-), Artist. Artist or producer of 5 portraits, Sitter in 8 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Taken with a large-format camera, the sitter is shown holding a wax mask of herself which hangs from a ribbon. The notion of the 'mask' has previously occupied Wearing but, in this case, the idea was prompted by the sitter, who commented in their first meeting that her public persona is mask-like, often interpreted as 'grim', 'worthy' and 'strident'.

Related worksback to top

  • NPG 7145: 'Work in Progress' (based on same portrait)

Linked publicationsback to top

  • 100 Portraits, p. 152
  • Lydia Miller; Samira Ahmed, Inspirational Women: Rediscovering stories in Art, Science and Social Reform, 2022, p. 107
  • Various contributors, National Portrait Gallery: A Portrait of Britain, 2014, p. 278 Read entry

    Since 2003 Shami Chakrabarti has been the director of the influential human rights pressure group Liberty, becoming a spokesperson for issues relating to civil liberties. Born in London, of Indian heritage, Chakrabarti studied Law at the London School of Economics. She was called to the Bar in 1994, before joining the Home Office as a lawyer, where she contributed to the implementation of the Human Rights Act. Chakrabarti is portrayed holding a wax mask of her own face hanging from a ribbon.

    Exploring the disparity between public and private identities, the mask is a feature of the work of Turner Prize-winning artist Gillian Wearing (b.1963). In the case of this portrait, however, the idea was prompted by the sitter, who commented upon first meeting the artist that her public persona is mask-like, often interpreted as ‘grim’, ‘worthy’ and ‘strident’. The mask was sculpted from a digital scan of the sitter’s head and included glass eyes. Chakrabarti was photographed in black and white using a large format camera, an approach that replicates the static sobriety of Victorian portrait photography.

Tell us more back to top

Can you tell us more about this portrait? Spotted an error, information that is missing (a sitter’s life dates, occupation or family relationships, or a date of portrait for example) or do you know anything that we don't know? If you have information to share please complete the form below.

If you require information from us, please use our Archive enquiry service. You can buy a print of most illustrated portraits. Select the portrait of interest to you, then look out for a Buy a Print button. Prices start at £6 for unframed prints, £25 for framed prints. If you wish to license this image, please use our Rights and Images service.

Please note that we cannot provide valuations.

We digitise over 8,000 portraits a year and we cannot guarantee being able to digitise images that are not already scheduled.

What can you tell us?close

There are occasions when we are unsure of the identity of a sitter or artist, their life dates, occupation or have not recorded their family relationships. Sometimes we have not recorded the date of a portrait. Do you have specialist knowledge or a particular interest about any aspect of the portrait or sitter or artist that you can share with us? We would welcome any information that adds to and enhances our information and understanding about a particular portrait, sitter or artist.


How do you know this? Please could you let us know your source of information.

* Permission to publish (Privacy information)
Privacy Informationclose

The National Portrait Gallery will NOT use your information to contact you or store for any other purpose than to investigate or display your contribution. By ticking permission to publish you are indicating your agreement for your contribution to be shown on this collection item page. Please note your email address will not be displayed on the page nor will it be used for any marketing material or promotion of any kind.

Please ensure your comments are relevant and appropriate. Your contributions must be polite and with no intention of causing trouble. All contributions are moderated.

Your Emailclose

Contributions are moderated. We'll need your email address so that we can follow up on the information provided and contact you to let you know when your contribution has been published.