Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Official Portrait of Rowan Williams unveiled - sort of ...

This is the official portrait - at least it's supposed to be, apparently - of the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. The likeness is exemplary. It really does capture his, to coin a rather oxymoronic phrase, renowned humility. What's not clear at this time is whether this particular view is cropped or the original perspective of the official portrait that - according to Ruth Gledhill at the London Times - has not yet made it out of a back room at Lambeth Palace since it's unveiling.

He does look somewhat cornered, doesn't he, although I suppose he could be blocking a secret door behind those drapes. There are some most excellent comments over at Ruth's blog and I encourage you to get thee hence and read them all, most especially George Barr's insightful postings on the portrait.

The perspective does seem to be as one who is waiting, who's even intentionally off to the side - like at a dance, having finished his glass of punch is now waiting, not wanting to intrude but not quite ready to go. And he seems quite content to be right where he is.

But who is it this who approaches him? The perspective is quite interesting. It's quite a contrast to this recent one, or this one. Or even this one. It's quite different from this photo portrait (which is similar to this earlier sitting) as well (with glimpses of portraits of predecessors from the past there in the background).

It is quite puzzling however, that we should find him so plainly in the corner, as though attempting to hide behind the drapes. The expression on his face seems to convey a warm expectancy. "Ah, there You are."

Or else he just has a very tall painter.


1662 BCP said...

The perspective which I may have employed would be that of him standing, facing the corner. or perhaps sitting atop a stool, facing the corner and wearing a mitre.

Pageantmaster said...

I like it.

TLF+ said...

Hmmm... check out the fingers... why is he signaling the # 6 ?

BabyBlue said...

Oh that's too funny, TLF. We've been watching too many hostage-vidoes. But you know, it looks to me like it's #1 + #4 which equals #5. This is great. He does seem to be in the position of someone held hostage and perhaps he is signaling to the folks back home. Or the artist thinks he is. Too much. No wonder it's still in the back room.


Hening said...

As someone that used to work in photography, that is awful composition. Shooting down makes the A/B small. His hands are very unnatural. His left thumb is almost missing an his right index finger is just done pointing. Too much focus around his lap (groin), and no expression in his face. He's also part of the drapes.

My read:
Here is a man with no direction, wedged into the corner with his back against the walls, draped in the refinements of unadorned times, and no idea how to use his hands or position. The background reflects no color, expression or connection. Content to take up a seat outside of where action in the room is going on is going on, resigned, removed, submissive, unkempt and the portrayed with the forehead of a Klingon.