Regarded as one of the world's great pianists, Brendel was born in northern Moravia in what is now the Czech Republic, and has lived in London since 1971. Brendel studied briefly at the Graz Conservatory but is largely self-taught. The first artist to record Beethoven complete works for solo piano, his repertoire includes Mozart, Schubert, Brahms and Liszt. He retired from performing in 2008.From the beginning of the commissioning consultation process it was clear that Alfred Brendel was not going to be satisfied with a conventional portrait and indeed he was reticent about sitting at all. However, he was taken with the raw strength and authenticity of Bevan's vision. Although many of Bevan's paintings are based on direct observation, both of himself, his family and friends, this is the first time that the artist has ventured into the realm of the portrait commission. Uncertain about whether he would produce something that pleased both the sitter and himself this was a challenge pushing the boundaries of his normal concerns with painting the head. Pictorial and stylistic precursors for the work can be cited such as the sharp diagonal line of pigment cutting across the bottom of the canvas which is a reference to Goya's A Drowning Dog (1820–1823) also present in Bevan's earlier Horizon series. The finished portrait is a result of an intense period of work over a year during which he produced a series of preparatory sketches from life followed by drawings and paintings based on the sketches.
Where to see this painting?
National Portrait Gallery, London
St Martin’s Place, London, Greater London, England, WC2H 0HE
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