Renowned portrait artist Nelson Shanks, whose portfolio includes some very famous subjects including Princess Diana, Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II revealed in media interviews, only months before his passing that he included some hidden imagery in his now infamous presidential portrait of Bill Clinton. Shanks considered Clinton, “probably the most famous liar of all time”, and couldn’t get the indelible image of the sordid Monica Lewinsky affair “completely out of my mind and it is subtly incorporated in the painting.”
You never know where creative inspiration is going to come from. It appears his loathing for Clinton’s character inspired him on this commission. Here is a description his own words; “If you look at the left-hand side of it there’s a mantle in the Oval Office and I put a shadow coming into the painting and it does two things. It actually literally represents a shadow from a blue dress that I had on a mannequin, that I had there while I was painting it, but not when he was there. It is also a bit of a metaphor in that it represents a shadow on the office he held, or on him.” I guess we all have a little bit of that editorial streak in us.
Mr. Shanks passed away in August of 2015 at the age of 77, but what a great swan song to an impressive career in art!
Here’s a link to the article quoted above: http://articles.philly.com/