LONDON – The National Portrait Gallery, London has unveiled a new portrait of Olympian and Wimbledon champion, Andy Murray by Maggi Hambling. The multi-figured portrait will join the Gallery’s Collection, accompanied by four preparatory charcoal drawings from life completed in the artist’s studio in September last year. The painting and two of the drawings are now on public display in the gallery until May 3, 2020.
Andy Murray has for many years been a hero for Maggi Hambling and in early 2019 she discovered that he was interested in her work. Following Murray’s first visit to the artist’s studio in London, the two became friends and Hambling invited him to sit for a portrait. On the morning of Sept. 9, 2019, Murray posed for a series of drawings wearing his Wimbledon whites and the painting then evolved.
Following its display at the National Portrait Gallery in London the work will travel to Scotland, where it will go on display at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.
“Over the last few years I’ve become more interested in art and Maggi is one of my favorite artists, so I was more than happy to sit for a portrait – the first time I’ve done it. It was fascinating to watch her work, so much time and effort goes into a painting like this, I hope people appreciate that and how talented she is,” said Andy Murray.
“I couldn’t have made this portrait without my passion for tennis – both watching the game and in an appallingly amateur way, playing it,” said Maggi Hambling. “My approach to a portrait is never the same. In this instance the composition arrived not only from the drawings but from my imagination which had been on the boil for some time beforehand, in preparation. Andy’s physicality is at the core of the painting. In contrast to the intimate mobility of her hands in my portrait of Dorothy Hodgkin, the challenge here was the speed of Andy’s whole body as he plays, one stroke flowing into another. The portrait head in combination with his figure in action encourages the eye to move throughout the territory of the canvas.”
The portrait is an acquisition by the National Portrait Gallery gifted by a private donor. Murray is also represented in the gallery’s collection by a photographic portrait taken by Karl J. Karl in 2006. The gallery holds eight other works by Hambling, including portraits of Stephen Fry, Dorothy Hodgkin and George Melly.
After turning pro in 2005, Murray won his first ATP title, the SAP Open in San Jose, a year later. Fast forward two years and seven more tour titles, Murray reached his first grand slam final, the 2008 US Open. However, in 2012, having lost in three subsequent grand slam final appearances, he became the US Open Champion, hot on the heels of an illustrious Gold Medal victory at Wimbledon during the London 2012 Olympics. Murray then ended years of British heartbreak on the same turf just a year later by becoming the first British male in 77 years to win the highly coveted Wimbledon Championships in London in July 2013 and then repeated that feat, capturing his second Wimbledon title in 2016. Currently, with 46 career titles, Andy Murray is Great Britain’s most successful tennis player of the Open era, the first Briton to reach 500 ATP match wins and his maiden grand slam title ended Great Britain’s 76-year wait for a male grand slam champion. He is also the first-ever British world number one in the open era.
Maggi Hambling CBE (born 1945, Suffolk) lives and works in London and Suffolk. Hambling studied with Lett Haines and Cedric Morris, and then Ipswich, Camberwell and the Slade Schools of Art. In 1980 she became the First Artist in Residence at the National Gallery, London, and in 1995 won the Jerwood Painting Prize (with Patrick Caulfield). Her work is represented in major collections internationally, and in the UK these include the National Portrait Gallery, British Museum, Tate, Victoria and Albert Museum, and National Gallery.