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National Portrait Gallery Commissions Painting of Sir Michael Parkinson by Jonathan Yeo
Sir Michael Parkinson by Jonathan Yeo, 2010 © National Portrait Gallery, London.

LONDON.- A new painted portrait of the journalist, author and broadcaster Sir Michael Parkinson has been commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery, London, where it will go on display for the first time from Friday 27 May 2011.

Painted in a variety of brown tones, the portrait in oil on canvas by Jonathan Yeo is a ‘head’ executed from life over five sittings in the artist’s London studio. The intimacy of Yeo’s close-cropped composition gives a sense of how it might feel to be faced by Sir Michael as one of his interview subjects, a privilege usually reserved for the famous.

Parkinson came to prominence as a talk show host during the ‘golden age’ of British television in the 1970s. Best-known as the presenter of the flagship interview programme Parkinson (1971-1982, 1998-2007), Sir Michael, popularly referred to as ‘Parky’, began his career as a reporter on local papers in Yorkshire before joining the Manchester Guardian in 1958, and thence to Fleet Street and The Daily Express. He moved to television in the 1960s as a producer and presenter for Granada. On BBC radio, he presented Desert Island Discs (1985-88) and Parkinson’s Sunday Supplement (1996-2007), where he is credited with raising the profile of contemporary jazz. He has also written regular sports columns for The Sunday Times and The Daily Telegraph.

Jonathan Yeo is one of Britain's best-known portrait painters. Mainly self-taught, his sitters include Dennis Hopper, Tony Blair and Nicole Kidman. He has previously exhibited a number of works at the National Portrait Gallery, including portraits of Grayson Perry, Erin O'Connor and Andrew Lloyd Webber, and his 2006 painting of Rupert Murdoch is in the Gallery's permanent Collection. He has subsequently alternated exhibiting paintings and collages in the UK, Europe and America. He lives and works in London.

Rosie Broadley, Associate Curator, National Portrait Gallery, London, says: ‘This is an engaging portrait of a distinguished and popular broadcaster by an artist who is fascinated by the representation of celebrity.’.

Sir Michael Parkinson by Jonathan Yeo is on display from 27 May 2011 at the National Portrait Gallery’s Contemporary Collections in the Lerner Galleries (Room 41) until 30 November 2011.

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