Artist Alexander Newley announces ‘Portraits in Character – supporting St Martin-in-the-Fields’: a solo exhibition featuring portraits of Sir Kenneth Branagh and actors from the plays at The Garrick Season


Artist Alexander Newley is delighted to announce his solo exhibition ‘Portraits in Character – supporting St Martin-in-the-Fields’, in the Crypt of St Martin’s, Trafalgar Square from 7th to 21st November. The exhibition is to run in partnership with St Martin-in-the-Fields, a fitting location for the exhibition, with its proximity to the National Portrait Gallery and National Gallery and will mark Newley’s return to the London art world after several years in New York.

In Spring 2017 the paintings and drawings featured in ‘Portraits in Character – supporting St Martin- in-the-Fields’, will be auctioned to benefit the work of St Martin-in-the-Fields, including their outreach with homeless people. For more information about this auction in support of St Martin-in-the-Fields please contact [email protected]

Newley collaborated with Kenneth Branagh to create a unique series of portraits of several of the leading cast from the Plays at the Garrick season, which comes to a close this November. Alexander Newley spent time with the cast over a period of one year, capturing the actors in character backstage after performances. The result is a series of drawings and paintings capturing the aura of some of the UK’s most celebrated actors; Dame Judi Dench, Kenneth Branagh, Adrian Lester, Derek Jacobi, Richard Madden and Lily James.

This is not the first time Alexander Newley has portrayed actors, but the latest chapter in a life-long quest to promote the lost genre of theatrical portraiture. Newley’s full-length portrait of Sir Nigel Hawthorne in character as Mad King George III was commissioned by the National Theatre, and later acquired by the V&A Museum for their collection of Theatre in the 20th Century. His portrait of Actor Christopher Reeve is in the permanent collection of The National Portrait Gallery at The Smithsonian in Washington DC, and the portrait of actor Anthony Newley as Ebenezer Scrooge, which marked the beginning of Alexander Newley’s theatrical portraits, is in a private collection in New York. This month Newley’s new portrait of Actor David Suchet was unveiled at London’s Garrick Club, where it will join the permanent collection on display.

Alexander Newley commented: “Painting an actor in character adds another layer of interest for me. I’ve always been fascinated by the unknowable human self and how it variously disguises and forms itself into the mask of personality. In a theatrical portrait, that self is further warped and refracted through the mask of portrayal. I am making a portrait of their portrait, in other words, which is a fascinating game of chess on many levels.”


Alexander Newley is a leading contemporary portrait artist working on both sides of the Atlantic, known for his iconic depictions of major figures in the Arts including; Gore Vidal, Billy Wilder, Christopher Reeve, Oliver Stone and Steven Berkoff. His portrait of Gore Vidal, America’s infamous polemicist and wit, and his dramatic triple-portrait of Actor, Activist, and former Superman star Christopher Reeve, imprisoned in his life-supporting wheelchair, form part of the permanent collection of The National Portrait Gallery at The Smithsonian in Washington DC.

Newley’s full-length portrait of Sir Nigel Hawthorne in character as Mad King George III was commissioned by the English National Theatre as the promotional image for their production of Alan Bennett’s play The Madness of George III, and his portrait of writer Dominick Dunne, passionately scribbling in his notebook during his coverage for Vanity Fair of the OJ Simpson trial, was chosen for the cover of Dunne’s best-selling memoir about the case, Another City, Not My Own, and went on to achieve widespread exposure all over America.

In 2006 Newley received his highest honour to date when his portrait of Hawthorne in character as George III was acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum for their permanent collection devoted to Theatre in the 20th century.

Recent successes have included his mesmeric, multi-layered Head of Lincoln, which is now the central attraction at The Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Illinois – the home of Lincoln studies – and Newley’s mischievous portrait of Jeffrey Archer hiding his face behind his hands.

Newley has exhibited widely in the UK, USA, and China.

Exhibition details: ‘Portraits in Character’ will run from 7 to 21 November 2016 at St Martin-in-the- Fields, Trafalgar Square, London

More information can be found here:

Opening hours during exhibition: Exhibitions are open to the public on
Monday-Tuesday 8.00am- 8.00pm,
Wednesday 8.00am-6.00pm,
Thursday-Saturday 8.00am-9.00pm
Sunday 11.00am- 6.00pm.