The National Portrait Gallery to Unveil Previously Unseen Portrait of London Restaurateur Sally Clarke by Catherine Goodman
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.