On Tuesday 15 June 2004, the National Portrait Gallery unveiled to the public a spectacular portrait commission by John Lessore ‘Six British Paralympic Athletes’.
Annely Juda Fine Art exhibited 24 studies for the painting. These intimate works, each a small-scale finished oil painting in its own right, depict group compositions as well as studies of the individual sitters. The portraits celebrate the achievements of the British Paralympic team and represent six multi-gold medallists who took part in various Paralympic games including those in Sydney in 2000. The sensitivity of the portraiture provides an impression of personal and collective achievement – celebrating individual and national success.
The Paralympic Games take place once every four years in the same city as the Olympic Games. They were conceived in 1948 by neurologist Dr Ludwig Guttmann who used sport in the rehabilitation of Second World War veterans at the Stoke Mandeville hospital in Aylesbury, England. John Lessore, himself paraplegic, met Dr. Guttmann there and has dedicated the National Portrait Gallery painting to his memory. The 2004 Paralympics took place in Athens from 17-28 September.
John Lessore (b.1939, London) paints portraits, landscapes and interiors. He studied at the Slade School of Fine Art and taught at the Royal Academy Schools for over 30 years. His first solo exhibition was in London in 1965 and since then he has exhibited extensively. His work is held in many public collections including The Tate Gallery, The British Museum, The Arts Council of Great Britain and the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo. This was his first exhibition at Annely Juda Fine Art.
The athletes featured in his portraits are Tanni Grey-Thompson; Chris Holmes; Caroline Innes; Simon Jackson; Maggi McEleny and Noel Thatcher.