October Artwork of the Month: 'Baroness Amos' by Paul Benney

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28 September 2017

To mark Black History Month, October's artwork is a portrait of Valerie Amos, Baroness Amos, who in 2003 became the first black woman to sit in the UK Cabinet

The portrait was commissioned by the then House of Lords Works of Art Committee in 2004 to record Baroness Amos's important place in parliamentary history.

It was painted by Paul Benney, a self-taught portrait painter whose work is found in collections internationally. Other works by Benney in the Parliamentary Art Collection include portraits of Iain Duncan Smith and Baroness D'Souza.

Baroness Amos

Following a successful career in public service - including in local government and as Chair of the Equal Opportunity Commission - Valerie Amos was made Baroness Amos of  Brondesbury in the London Borough of Brent in 1997.

From 1998 to 2001 Baroness Amos was a Government Whip in the House of Lords and also a spokesperson on Social Security, International Development, Women's Issues and Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. In 2001 she was made Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs.

In May 2003 Baroness Amos was appointed Secretary of the State for International Development, becoming the first black woman to sit in the UK Cabinet. In October of that year she moved to another Cabinet role as Leader of the House of Lords.

Baroness Amos left the Cabinet in 2007. She has since held a number of important positions, including British High Commissioner to Australia (2009-10) and United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator (2010-15).

Further information

Image: Detail of 'Baroness Amos' by Paul Benney, oil on canvas, 2004 (WOA 6386)

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Works of Art Advisory Panel (Lords)

The Works of Art Advisory Panel considers matters relating to works of art and artistic heritage