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The commissioning of this painting coincided with the British Academy’s centenary in 2002, and depicts the six Presidents of the Academy who were then living. The painting won the NPG/BP Portrait Award in 2001. Left to right, the painting shows:
Sir Anthony Kenny (President, 1989–1993), Master of Balliol College, Oxford, and Warden of Rhodes House. He is an historian of philosophy.
Sir Tony Wrigley (President, 1997–2001), one of the founders of the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure. He held academic appointments at Cambridge, LSE and Oxford and was Master of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.
Sir Keith Thomas (President, 1993–1997), who was Reader in Modern History and Professor (1986) at Oxford, where he was President of Corpus Christi College and is a Fellow of All Souls College.
Reverend Professor Owen Chadwick, OM, KBE (President, 1981–1985), Dixie Professor of Ecclesiastical History and Regius Professor of Modern History in the University of Cambridge. He was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge and Chancellor of the University of East Anglia.
Sir Kenneth Dover (President, 1978–1981), who was Chancellor of the University of St Andrews and Professor of Greek. He was President of Corpus Christi College, Oxford.
Lord Runciman, President-Designate at the time of the painting, is just visible in a photograph on the table.
Stuart Pearson Wright is a prize-winning painter, best known for his portraits of leading figures in the arts and literature. Of the chicken he has said, ‘As soon as you put chickens in an unusual context they become macabre. The skin of a plucked chicken reminds me of the skin of a human being, particularly an old human being, so that the presence of a chicken for me becomes a memento mori.’
Six Academy Presidents (Gallus Gallus with Still Life and Presidents)
oil on linen
H 167 x W 147.5 cm