A series of portraits by Alexander Newley of Sir Kenneth Branagh, Dame Judi Dench, Adrian Lester, Sir Derek Jacobi and Lily James will be featured in a gala auction at the historic St. Martin-in-the-fields, Trafalgar Square, on Wednesday 8 March, 2017. The gala patrons are Dame Judi Dench and Sir Kenneth Branagh.
Following the successful “Portraits in Character” solo exhibition at St Martin’s in November 2016, Alexander Newley’s paintings of some of British theatre’s most loved and respected actors will be star lots in an auction to raise funds for St Martin-in-the-fields’ buildings, mission, music and for their work with homeless and vulnerable people in London and around the UK.
A close collaboration between Alexander Newley, Fiery Angel, St Martin-in-the-fields and iconic director and actor Sir Kenneth Branagh led to a unique series of portraits of players in the autumn 2016 season of the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company at The Garrick Theatre. Alexander Newley worked on the portraits for a year, and was granted unprecedented access backstage at The Garrick Theatre in order to capture the energy and dynamism of the actors in character.
Alexander Newley is the leading contemporary artist specialising in the genre of theatrical portraiture, a lost art more common in the 18th century. He has captured on canvas some of the most iconic figures of stage and screen including Sir David Suchet, whose portrait was revealed at The Garrick Club in October 2016, (and now hangs in the most esteemed spot in the Garrick bar) and Sir Nigel Hawthorne, whose portrait is in the permanent collection of the V&A. Newley’s father was celebrated actor and Oscar-winning songwriter Anthony Newley, and his Mother is actress Dame Joan Collins, so he loved the drama of the stage and transformative power of actors from an early age.
Alexander Newley commented: “I was honoured to be given unprecedented access to Sir Kenneth Branagh and his esteemed company of actors at The Garrick Theatre in 2016, and to exhibit the portraits at St. Martin-in-the-Fields. The series “Portraits in Character” was the result of a year spent capturing the actors backstage and in the studio. I’m thrilled that Sir Jeffery Archer (a previous sitter of mine) will be auctioning off my paintings in a gala to benefit St Martin-in-the-Fields.”
ABOUT ALEXANDER NEWLEY
Alexander Newley is a leading contemporary portrait artist working on both sides of the Atlantic, known for his iconic depictions of major figures in the Arts including; Gore Vidal, Billy Wilder, Christopher Reeve, Oliver Stone and Steven Berkoff. His portrait of Gore Vidal, America's infamous polemicist and wit, and his dramatic triple-portrait of Actor, Activist and former Superman star Christopher Reeve in his life-supporting wheelchair, form part of the permanent collection of The National Portrait Gallery at The Smithsonian in Washington DC.
Newley’s full-length portrait of Sir Nigel Hawthorne in character as Mad King George III was commissioned by the English National Theatre as the promotional image for their production of Alan Bennett's play The Madness of George III, and his portrait of writer Dominick Dunne, passionately scribbling in his notebook during his coverage for Vanity Fair of the OJ Simpson trial, was chosen for the cover of Dunne's best-selling memoir about the case, Another City, Not My Own, and went on to achieve widespread exposure all over America.
In 2006 Newley received his highest honour to date, when his portrait of Hawthorne in character as George III was acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum for their permanent collection devoted to Theatre in the 20th century.
Recent successes have included his mesmeric, multi-layered Head of Lincoln, which is now the central attraction at The Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Illinois - the home of Lincoln studies - and Newley's mischievous portrait of Jeffrey Archer hiding his face behind his hands.
Newley has exhibited widely in the UK, USA and China.
ABOUT ST MARTIN-IN-THE-FIELDS
St Martin-in-the-Fields is a landmark church, which has been serving London for centuries. The iconic building stands as a beacon in Trafalgar Square, welcoming people through its doors for services, music or simply as a place of quiet sanctuary from the bustle of central London.
Each year St Martin’s raises money for its buildings, mission, music and for the work with homeless and vulnerable people in London and around the UK.
St Martin-in-the-fields, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 4JJ