This is the latest portrait to join the contemporary portrait collection in the House of Lords and records for posterity the valuable contribution made by Baroness D’Souza as Lord Speaker over her five years in post. The Committee follows an active commissioning policy which enables the House to represent notable contemporary parliamentarians whose contribution to the life and work of the House has been of particular note.
Baroness Maddock, the Chairman of the House of Lords Works of Art Committee, said
“As only the second Lord Speaker, Baroness D’Souza was an obvious and notable sitter for the Parliamentary Art Collection. We are delighted to have secured this portrait whilst she was in office and the artist Paul Benney is to be congratulated for combining successfully the formality of her position as Lord Speaker with the human qualities she has in abundance.”
Baroness D’Souza, Lord Speaker, said
“I felt honoured though slightly nervous when I was asked to sit for a portrait for the Collection. However it was obvious I was in very capable hands and Paul made me feel entirely relaxed during the sittings. Seeing the portrait develop in front on my eyes through Paul’s mastery was a unique and exciting experience.”
Paul Benney is a British contemporary artist who rose to international prominence whilst living and working in New York in the 1980s. Known for his dark 'Night Paintings' and Stygian themes, Benney incorporated portrait work into his practice, becoming one of the UK's leading practitioners.
He has won the public choice award in the BP Portrait Award twice and has been short listed on a further two occasions. He recently completed two portraits of HM The Queen.
Benney has two portraits in the Parliamentary Art Collection of Baroness Amos (House of Lords, WOA 6386) and Iain Duncan Smith (House of Commons, WOA 6383), both dated 2004.
Paul Benney said
“In my portrait work I endeavour to reveal life lived, and perhaps touch on human strengths and frailties.
Frances D'Souza allowed me, through her honesty and strong personal engagement during our sittings, to get to those themes easily and with much humour.”
The portrait is on public display in the Royal Gallery in the House of Lords during summer.
Watch film footage showing this portrait being painted and including interviews with the artist and sitter.
Watch film footage of the unveiling of the portrait.
Image: Paul Benney with the Lord Speaker Baroness D'Souza and Baroness Maddock at the portrait unveiling. © Parliamentary Art Collection.
Image of full portrait courtesy of Benney Studios.