I have just been filling out the Marketing Questionnaire for the book I wrote during the toughest part of lockdown on the work of John Wonnacott, an artist whose paintings I have always admired ever since the National Portrait Gallery commissioned him to paint John Major, while Major was still (but only just) in office as Prime Minister, looking a bit forlorn in one of the grander rooms in 10, Downing Street, with Norma sitting in the window seat behind him. Four years later, Wonnacott himself suggested that he might paint a portrait of the entire Royal Family to mark the millennium. I thought it was extremely unlikely that they would agree, but to my surprise they did and so he painted a great set-piece portrait of them all. At the time, he was represented by Agnew’s, one of the leading Old Master dealers who had very grand premises on Bond Street. They were able to negotiate the sale of his work to both the Tate and Metropolitan Museum.
The book will be published by Lund Humphries in September.
2 thoughts on “John Wonnacott: A Biographical Study (1)”
For those of us who know nothing about portraiture except, perhaps, from an annual visit to the NPG Portrait Artist exhibition I have to say that the Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year programme has been something of a revelation. This year’s season has just finished and not only have I enjoyed watching all the different approaches and styles it has been interesting to follow the twitter debate (#paoty) around each show and see just how heated it is. People clearly care about portraiture and, having never heard of John Wonnacott I find myself more interested than I might have been without the intervention of a major broadcaster.
Dear Joan, I hope people will be interested in learning more about his work – he’s dropped a bit out of public consciousness, not helped by the demise of Agnew’s. Charles