Philosopher, writer and academic, Onora O'Neill was Principal of Newnham College, Cambridge from 1992 until 2005. She is currently Chairman of Trustees of the Nuffield Foundation and President of the British Academy. She has written and lectured widely on ethics, bioethics and political philosophy with particular interests in questions of international justice and the philosophy of Kant. She was made a Life Peer in 1999 and sits as a crossbencher. O'Neill took an active interest in the portrait-making process and requested an artist who could paint women with an understated approach. Russell has successfully achieved this through a stripping away of the background and focus on the subject, who sits slightly below the artist's sightline. Sittings began in the laundry room at Newnham College, the only room that provided northern light, and were continued at the artist's East London studio.
Where to see this painting?
National Portrait Gallery, London
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