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WORK OF THE WEEK | 7 January 2019

CAG.2039 Victoria Russell, Portrait of Fiona Shaw, 2002, oil on canvas, 182 x 122 cm. © the artist.

‘Honestly, I get more recognized for 'Three Men and a Little Lady' than “Harry Potter.”’ This week we showcase our superb portrait of Irish actor Fiona Shaw by Victoria Russell.

Fiona Shaw CBE (b.1958) is one of Ireland’s most celebrated actors of both stage and screen. A native of Cork, she is a graduate of University College Cork and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and a two-time Olivier Award winner for best actress. She is known for her roles in theatre (Medea, Hedda Gabler, The Testament of Mary), film (My Left Foot, The Butcher Boy, Harry Potter) and television (True Blood, Killing Eve).

Reflecting on the creation of this portrait, Shaw has said that ‘Normally people are dead before their portraits are unveiled. Victoria photographed me in the bath, the kitchen and bed. It was exciting to see which picture she would use for the portrait. I just wish I had brushed my hair!’ (Irish Independent, 16 September 2002)

Victoria Russell, the artist behind the portrait, studied at Central Saint Martins and was the winner of the BP Portrait Award in 2000. As part of this prize, Russell received a commission to create a portrait for the National Portrait Gallery’s contemporary collection. This resulted in two vivid portraits of Fiona Shaw – one of which we purchased in 2002 – painted from life in the actor's home over three months. Russell captures her subject in a relaxed, yet vital pose.

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