Search

Highgate artist commissioned to paint new portrait of Diana Princess of Wales

11:46 06 December 2012

Diana and Zohar at the original sitting in 1990

Diana and Zohar at the original sitting in 1990

Archant

As an unknown artist who had only recently arrived in England, Israel Zohar was shocked when he was hand-picked to paint a formal portrait of the Princess of Wales.

Artist Israel Zohar working in his Highgate studio on a sketch for his new portrait of DianaArtist Israel Zohar working in his Highgate studio on a sketch for his new portrait of Diana

Now, as Prince William and wife Kate announce they are expecting their first child – a baby who would have been Diana’s first grandchild – he is doing a new, and more intimate, portrait of the people’s princess based on the sketches and photographs he took during the original sitting.

The 67-year-old, of Hornsey Lane, Highgate, now a world-renowned painter, still remembers the 28-year-old Diana as the “nicest, sweetest person”.

He said: “Many people ask me what she was like and I always thought that I could give a better answer in painting than in words. In quite a short time, I saw so many sides of her personality from glamour to loneliness and isolation.

“These contradictions fascinated me and evoked a lot of empathy and closeness. I feel as if I owe it to her to do a portrait that she would really like and recognise her true self in.

“A picture speaks better than a thousand words but a painting speaks better than a thousand pictures.”

Mr Zohar was born an only child in Kazakhstan in 1945 and travelled with his Russian Holocaust refugee parents to Israel in 1949, where he started studying art at the age of 13.

In 1989, only two years after arriving in England, he put on his first UK show at a Mayfair gallery and was spotted by an officer from the 13th/18th Royal Hussars, who wanted a portrait of their colonel-in-chief to hang in their headquarters.

“I imagined an old gentleman with a white moustache,” said Mr Zohar. “I had no idea it was Diana. It was a fluke of history.”

He worked day and night on the portrait for two months in 1990 during sittings at Kensington Palace and at his then studio in South Kensington.

Diana wore the midnight blue Victor Edelstein gown first seen when she danced with John Travolta at the White House in 1985. The dress was auctioned for £510,000 in 2011.

Now Mr Zohar wants to paint a very different portrait. Apart from the fact that it will be larger and will feature a standing Diana, he will allow it to take on its own form.

He said: “For many years, I felt that if I had known then what I know now – the tragedy of her life, the way it unfolded – I would have done a very different portrait.”

But Mr Zohar insists it is pure coincidence that he is working on the painting as William and Kate expect their first baby.

“Diana would probably have been very happy,” he said. “But also unhappy to be a grandmother so early!”

0 comments

Latest News Stories

Yesterday, 17:30
A CGI of what the tower in Avenue Road will look like

One of the most controversial housing developments proposed in Camden in recent times will reach a critical point in the coming weeks – and a bitter war of words has already broken out between the developer, council and campaigners.

Yesterday, 16:19
Sir Nicholas Winton at Hampstead Theatre in 2008. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

Tributes have poured in for Sir Nicholas Winton, who was called “Britain’s Schindler” for saving the lives of Jewish children during the Holocaust, after he died yesterday aged 106.

Yesterday, 13:24
Agnes Grunwald-Spier. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

A Holocaust survivor who called for an investigation into a RSPCA trustee who compared farming to the Nazi murder of Jews has had her claim rejected by the Charity Commission.

Yesterday, 11:57
The Royal Free's air conditioning may have accidently been pumping out hot air instead of cold

Sick and elderly patients have reportedly been left to suffer “sauna-like” conditions while being treated for life-threatening illnesses at the Royal Free after air conditioning units stopped working.

Most read news

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our monthly newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

Good times with Greenall's!

Good times with Greenall’s, a Great British gin sponsors Great British racing.

Escape to the picturesque sights of Cornwall

Summer is finally here, and what is the number one holiday location in the UK during the warmer months? Cornwall, of course!

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Hampstead & Highgate Express e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24


Our trusted business finder