This bust was commissioned by the National Gallery to acknowledge Paul Getty’s £50 million donation to the institution. It sits inside the Portico Entrance and was designed to make a pair with Sir Francis Chantrey’s marble bust of 1836 depicting Charles Long, 1st Baron Farnborough, a Victorian politician, a promoter and patron of the arts, and a founding Trustee of the Gallery.
The sculptor, Gerald Laing, is best known for his work in bronze, made at the foundry he established at his home, Kinkell Castle, in the Scottish Highlands. After training at London’s St Martin’s School of Art, he spent the 1960s in New York, where he made his name first as a Pop Artist and then as a sculptor of minimal forms. Disillusioned, he returned to Britain and took up figurative art again, albeit continuing to experiment. Laing returned to Pop Art and painting in the early 2000s, producing a series of anti-war works focussing on the atrocities perpetrated at Abu Ghraib, and paintings of celebrities such as Amy Winehouse, Victoria Beckham and Kate Moss.
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