- Apr 2013
- The Milky Way
Artist: Bill Clinton's portrait contains Monica Lewinsky reference - Nick Gass - POLITICO
An artist who painted a portrait of former President Bill Clinton says there’s more to the piece than one might see at first blush.
Pennsylvania artist Nelson Shanks told the Philadelphia Daily News that he included a shadow of a blue dress in the 2006 portrait that hangs in the National Portrait Gallery. It’s an apparent reference to the Monica Lewinsky scandal, with Shanks adding that the 42nd president is “probably the most famous liar of all time.”
“If you look at the left-hand side of it, there’s a mantle in the Oval Office and I put a shadow coming into the painting and it does two things,” the painter said.
“It actually literally represents a shadow from a blue dress that I had on a mannequin, that I had there while I was painting it, but not when he was there. It is also a bit of a metaphor in that it represents a shadow on the office he held, or on him.”
Shanks claimed that the Clintons have been lobbying the National Portrait Gallery to remove it, but a gallery spokeswoman denied that to the Daily News. Clinton reportedly chose Shanks to paint the portrait back in 2001.
A spokeswoman for the gallery confirmed to POLITICO that the Clintons have not contacted the museum about the painting, nor has the artist made any other statements to the museum regarding its content.
The portrait caused a bit of a stir when it was first unveiled nine years ago, as Clinton’s wedding ring was absent from his likeness.
In a 2001 article published by the Philadelphia Inquirer, Shanks said that Bill Clinton had personally selected him for the job after a vetting process run by the White House.