Iris Murdoch, by Tom Phillips, 1984-1986 - NPG 5921 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Iris Murdoch

by Tom Phillips
oil on canvas, 1984-1986
36 in. x 28 in. (914 mm x 711 mm)
Commissioned, 1987
NPG 5921

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Clare Wilkinson

28 February 2016, 22:37

A quote from a letter of Iris Murdoch to Naomi Lebowitz, probably from April 1987, regarding this portrait and the Titian in the background: 'The great picture by Titian is in the unpronounceable place (a monastery) in Czechoslovakia. The other picture is in the National Portrait Gallery London. The painter of the latter shared my absolute passion for the former, so kindly placed it on the wall behind me. Titian painted that picture when he was over ninety. I saw it on its very rare, first, I do hope not last, journey outside Czechoslovakia when it was exhibited here not long ago. The green spray in the picture of me is of a gingko tree, a tree I love and hold holy.'

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