Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.
The National Portrait Gallery in London is busily making acquisitions. Last month, the gallery announced that it had raised the necessary funds to buy an unfinished Thomas Lawrence portrait of Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington – the first significant likeness of the Iron Duke to enter its collection. Days later, it acquired a ‘death mask’ created by Tracey Emin in 2002.
As it turns out, Wellington and Emin were just warm-up acts for the museum’s latest acquisition: a portrait of chart-bothering singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran by the painter Colin Davidson. The teen heartthrob’s likeness has provoked a slew of reactions, with many suggesting that the portrait bears something of a likeness to Van Gogh. What a shame Douglas Coupland’s Vincent lookalike competition is no longer taking entries.
Sheeran, of course, has form when it comes to the fine arts. The singer has been known to turn up to private views at galleries in London and even does a bit of moonlighting as an artist himself: he recently drew an, erm, ‘naïve’ self portrait to be sold at auction for charity. And he has a well-publicised bromance with a certain Not-So-Young British Artist. Alas, Davidson neglected to include Sheeran’s bespoke Damien Hirst tattoo in his portrait…