On Prince William’s 34th birthday, Art UK was lucky enough to quiz portrait painter, Nicky Philipps on what it was like to paint Prince William and Prince Harry. The painting now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery as part of the national collection.
Art UK: When and how were you asked to paint Prince William and Prince Harry?
Nicky: I was commissioned in 2008 by the National Portrait Gallery to paint them together in a double portrait. Apparently, three of us were picked from the annual BP Portrait Award catalogues of the previous three years.
Art UK: How long did it take you to paint the portrait?
Nicky: The sittings took place between August 2008 and February 2009 and the portrait was completed by April 2009.
Art UK: How many sittings did it take?
Nicky: I was given five sittings of one and a half hours each. Three of them together, one each separately.
Art UK: What were they talking about when you were painting?
Nicky: Everything and anything. They chatted together as any two brothers would and included me when I spoke to them. There was a lot of teasing.
Art UK: How were they as models, were they still?
Nicky: Pretty good. I did occasionally have to be a bit of a headmistress if they stopped concentrating.
Art UK: How did you decide on the poses? The uniforms are smart, but the poses look more casual.
Nicky: I had seen Prince Harry sitting half on a console table at Clarence House with his hand on his hip, when I first met them and thought it was rather a dashing pose, so I started with him on a table like that in my studio. There is a pillar in the middle of the room and Prince William leant against it while I was arranging his brother, waiting to be told what to do. I turned around, saw him like that and thought 'that is the painting.'
Art UK: Who is in the portrait in the background by William’s right shoulder?
Nicky: George Bernard Shaw by Augustus John.
Art UK: Did they give you any feedback about the portrait?
Nicky: I got various comments back from others. Nothing directly.
Art UK: Why are they holding white gloves?
Nicky: They are part of the uniform
Art UK: What room are they standing in?
Nicky: I can’t remember what it is called but it is a small room next to the Queen Mother’s Drawing Room at Clarence House which was their home at the time.
Art UK: Who would you like to paint next?
Nicky: Prince Charles and/or Barry Humphries (as Dame Edna Everage).
Nicky Philipps is represented by Fine Art Commissions.