Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Political Portraits

I rather liked the portrait of Diane Abbott that was plastered all over the media yesterday but that's not the point. Why, in an age when any public figure who sticks their nose out the front door is going to meet lenses at every turn, do we still need to spend public money (it adds up to rather a lot) on commissioned portraits of MPs?  If you want to know what- for example- Tony Blair looks like all you have to do is Google him and take your pick of the millions of images available- some of which move and speak- and almost any of which is going to be more telling than the official painted portrait with its down-cast eyes that makes him look like the ascetic philosopher king we all know he isn't. The body that commissions these things is perpetuating tradition for its own sake. We own painted portraits of distinguished 19th century parliamentarians so we need painted portraits of Abbott and Bercow and IDS to complete the set- which is the way stamp collectors think. Let's stop doing it. And earn the gratitude of posterity- which is very unlikely to want to inherit- and have to store and care for- so many unmemorable paintings of folk who no longer matter.
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