London: It’s been lurking in a storeroom for nearly quarter of a century, but a nude painting of British PM Tony Blair’s wife Cherie will soon get to see the light of day – despite all her husband’s efforts to the contrary.
Titled Striding Nude, Blue Dress, the portrait was created by late artist Euan Uglow two years before Cherie Booth became Mrs Blair.
The painting, of which Blair is said to be as embarrassed about as his wife is proud, portrays a 24-year old Cherie striding forward, naked but for a skimpy blue minidress.
Striding Nude, Blue Dress found itself on a gallery’s walls only once before Tony Blair reportedly asked mutual pal Derry Irvine, the future lord chancellor, to coax Uglow to keep it out of public eye till the time Blair was Prime Minister, the artist’s friend and former dealer Will Darby revealed.
"The embarrassment came from Tony Blair who was very worried after he took office that this picture would come out. As a favour to his close friend Derry Irvine, Euan agreed not to display it while he was Prime Minister,” the Daily Mail quoted him, as saying.
"The portrait of Miss Booth hasn't been shown for nearly a quarter of a century because it was Euan's wish that it would never be shown after the Blairs entered public life," Darby said.
However, rather than abandon his idea for the painting, Uglow painted another one using a different model.
Both works were shown side by side at Will Darby's gallery Browse and Darby in 1983, the year Blair entered parliament, after which it was never seen again.
After Uglow's death in 2000, his works were transferred into the care of the Marlborough Fine Art Trust which displays his works on its website - including the picture of Cherie Blair though she is not identified.
The Marlborough Fine Art Trust will display Uglow’s work as part of retrospective exhibition in central London in May - the same month as Tony Blair is due to step down as PM, thus making sure that the artist’s promise is honoured.
As for Cherie Blair, well Darby predicts that she will all too happy to see the piece adorning a gallery wall.
"Cherie remained a great friend of Euan's until he died. She will be laughing her head off now that it's come out. She won't be ashamed at all,” he said.