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Previously unseen portrait of London restaurateur Sally Clarke is unveiled
Sally Clarke – ‘The Cook’ by Catherine Goodman © Catherine Goodman.

LONDON.- A larger-than-life sized portrait of the celebrated London restaurateur Sally Clarke, owner of CLARKE’S in Kensington, one of London’s most esteemed restaurants, will be unveiled in a new display of paintings by Catherine Goodman at the National Portrait Gallery, it was announced today (Monday 16 June 2014).

Sally Clarke, who was also painted by Lucian Freud in 2008, is depicted in Goodman’s portrait of her wearing her ‘chef’s whites’, reflecting the skill for which she is known. The portrait shows Clarke’s head and shoulders, which fill the canvas, and her gaze is directed slightly to the left of the viewer, as if deep in thought or concentration. It was painted during regular sittings at Goodman’s Chelsea studio over the last six months.

The unveiling of the portrait in Catherine Goodman: Portraits from Life (17 June - 23 November 2014) mirrors the first public display of Freud’s portrait of Clarke, which was exhibited for the first time in the National Portrait Gallery’s landmark exhibition of the artist’s work in 2012.

Commenting on Goodman’s portrait of Clarke, Dr Charles Saumarez Smith CBE, Secretary and Chief Executive, Royal Academy of Arts, says: ‘Catherine’s portrait stands comparison with Lucian’s. It is equally painterly, less expressionistic, and conveys the depths of Sally’s personality, her thoughtfulness, as well as her reticence and sometimes unknowability.’

Sally Clarke first studied at Croydon Technical College where she completed a two year diploma course in catering before moving to Paris to study at the Cordon Bleu School. During her time there, Clarke’s daily experience of the food markets, cafes and restaurants encouraged her to visualise a career in the world of food and wine. Sally then spent four years in California where she met Alice Waters of Chez Panisse who became her mentor and friend. In 1983 she returned to London to search for a site for her restaurant and the following year saw the opening of Clarke's in Kensington Church Street, London.

Other subjects on display in Catherine Goodman: Portraits from Life include film director Stephen Frears, author and broadcaster Daisy Goodwin, novelist Vikram Seth, Harry Parker, ex-soldier and Prince's Drawing School student, and lawyer Diana Rawstron, all of which have been completed within the past three years and will be exhibited for the first time. All sittings took place at the artist’s London studio where all her subjects sat in a duck-egg blue chair which can be clearly seen as a unifying element in the portraits. Catherine inherited the chair from Garsington Manor in Oxfordshire, which was the home of her great-grandmother, the Bloomsbury group socialite Lady Ottoline Morrell.

Catherine Goodman says: ‘The process of making a portrait is fundamental for me. The long periods of time spent in the studio together mean that trust develops between us and relationships deepen. For me, good portraits have psychological depth but it's not something that comes without mining’.

Goodman’s paintings are psychological as much as painterly, and it is her interest in the fragility of life that guides her choice of subjects for this exhibition. Instead of turning away from human vulnerability, Goodman compulsively examines it, a response that may stem from her relationship with a disabled sister whom she has drawn and painted regularly for over twenty-five years. In a fast world, she is an artist prepared to wait for the truth to surface: making slow portraits that, little by little, scratch beneath the surface to unveil what is ordinarily hidden behind a public face.

Sarah Howgate, Contemporary Curator at the National Portrait Gallery, says: ‘Catherine believes in direct drawing and painting, piercing observation and constantly re-visiting the subject. As I’ve watched these portraits evolve in the studio I’ve been struck by their shared intensity and how her subjects appear to be looking inwards. It will be fascinating to see how these quiet portraits of the interior sit amongst some of the more official, honorific portraits at the Gallery.’

This is the first display of Catherine Goodman’s work at the National Portrait Gallery, whose relationship with the artist dates back to 2002 when she was awarded first prize in the BP Portrait Award for her painting of Dom Antony Sutch, master of Downside College.

To mark this year’s 25th Anniversary of the BP Portrait Award the Gallery will display a new portrait of Sutch together with Goodman’s BP Portrait Award winner’s commission for the Gallery’s permanent collection, her 2005 painting of the founder of the modern hospice movement Dame Cicely Saunders, which was later the subject of a Royal Mail stamp.

Catherine Goodman was born in 1961 and studied at Camberwell School of Art and the Royal Academy Schools, where she won the RA Gold Medal. Goodman is known primarily as a painter, not specifically a portrait painter, and is represented by Marlborough Fine Art. She is Artistic Director of The Prince’s Drawing School, which she co-founded with HRH The Prince of Wales. Goodman currently lives and paints in London and India. Passionate about painting, Catherine counts among her mentors Frank Auerbach, Leon Kossoff and the late Lucian Freud.

Catherine Goodman: Portraits from Life, is curated by the Gallery’s Contemporary Curator, Sarah Howgate, whose exhibitions include the highly successful Lucian Freud Portraits (2012) and David Hockney Portraits (2006).

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