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Commissioning a Work of Art

Miriam Escofet Portrait

A commissioned portrait will take pride of place in any home. Those in the art world and those ‘in the know’ have long been aware that the country’s most renowned and exclusive portrait painters are available for private work through the Royal Society of Portrait Painter’s Portrait Commission service.

A commissioned portrait not only yields an heirloom piece of art, but the experience takes the commissioner on a truly extraordinary and intrinsically personal Fine Art journey: “When someone commissions a portrait, they become in a very real sense a sponsor, a patron of the arts,’ Anthony Connolly, President of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters.

The Royal Society of Portrait Painters represents the UK’s finest portrait painters. Membership is highly sought after and competitive, elected by the society’s membership: portrait artist peers and according to the highest standards of artistic merit. The dedicated Portrait Commission Service provides comprehensive support throughout all aspects of what is a remarkable and unique journey. They will help in selecting the right portraiture artist for you from a wide and diverse range of options.

Seeking Immortality

Alastair Adams RP was commissioned to depict Peter and Helen Wellby following a cancer diagnosis

A piece of art which will remain to be seen on canvas long after the sitter and artist have passed away, the painted portrait is preserved and will be passed from generation to generation ensuring the subject remains very much alive. Portraits commissioned ‘In Memoriam’ is a central motivator for many clients, providing a beautiful, moving and intimate way to remember a loved one. Recent examples include a portrait to capture the special relationship between a husband and wife, commissioned after the wife was diagnosed with terminal cancer. In terms of expenditure, the portrait commission was chosen in preference to a gravestone.

A Moment in Time

By the Pool by David Cobley RP

David Cobley’s ‘By the Pool’ is a portrait which freeze-frames a single moment, preserving and honouring it forever. The portrait captures and holds a precious feeling and memory for the future. Annabel Elton, Head of Commissions at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters said: “The modern portrait commission does more than depict the person and their character, it also captures a moment in time. These portraits operate on many different levels. Communicating depth of emotion around relationships and people, speaking of unique personalities and lives, and taking a picture in paint of a point in time to be treasured. Unlike photographs, which have become meaningless in their quantity, a portrait consecrates key moments and memories.”

Revealing Character

Elara’s World by Miriam Escofet

Miriam Escofet’s portraits are flawless, inviting the viewer in with their exquisite colours, delicacy and unreal beauty. But look more closely and you will see detail and symbolism communicating information about the sitter beyond the superficial. In her portraits, flowers, marbles and unique compositions speak directly from the canvas; in the same way as the classical works of the past and the Vanitas still lives of the 17th century. Miriam said; “Historically, flowers in paintings have great potency, with different varieties imbuing portraits with hidden messages. They are often associated with innocence and purity which is the reason for the magnolia flower in ‘Elara’s World.’ In her portrait, you will also see her special love of nature communicated by the wallpaper design in the background and the insects dotted around. Objects which convey a deeper, autobiographical meaning within my portraits are important to me, but they have to also fit aesthetically. Some clients really love the idea of including objects which have a biographical or deeper meaning…they will deliver welcome clues to the sitter’s identity.”

Rodney Williams by Michael Taylor RP

In Michael Taylor’s portrait of Rodney Williams, a man, seemingly with a penchant for wine and interesting ceramics looks unashamedly towards the viewer. But look more closely and you will see Rodney’s two marriages joining him on the canvas – his first wife on the jug in the background and his current wife taking centre stage next to him. More than a just an artistic representation of the physical, a portrait can reveal more of the real person than is seen in a photograph.

Love and Legacy

End of Lockdown by Frances Bell RP

Head of Commissions, Annabel Elton, comments; “If I think of one unifying theme, or client desire, which gives life to all our wonderful portrait commissions it is their ability to celebrate both love and legacy. It is what unites all the portrait commissions we facilitate and support. Portraits are commissioned to capture the people tied to families and friends through bonds of love, and the legacy part can be connected to this - the legacy of this person’s relationships, their generational connections or ancestral ties. The legacy element can also be seen in relation to a portrait’s ability to mark and honour what a person has achieved. This could both be in terms of their status and importance as part of a family unit and in terms of their career or achievements.”

To find out more about the Royal Society of Portrait Painter’s Portrait Commission Service, please visit


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