by Hans ten Cate (thanks to Terry Jones and Heidi Harrington)
Sunday, 25 April 2004

Terry Jones (Oil on canvas) 52" x 42"

Credit: Heidi Harrington (image used with permission of the artist; click to enlarge)

Terry Jones is touring the UK naked. Well, a portrait of Terry that is. The painting, by artist Heidi Harrington, has been part of several exhibitions and was most recently selected by special invitation to appear at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters* annual exhibition in London.

The portrait was first shown at Ms. Harrington’s exhibition ‘Stand-up Sitting’ at Riverside Studios, Hammersmith (27 January to 22 February 2004). Terry Jones was one of the eleven sitters featured in the exhibition, which also included other illustrious (and fully clothed) British comedians: Ronnie Corbett, Nigel Planer, Jenny Eclair and League of Gentlemen’s Mark Gatiss. “Heidi Harrington asked me if she could do my portrait,” Terry told us, “I tried to point out that I'm not really a comedian by any definition of the word (oh except for a very old one) but she still wanted to do it.”

“Any member of the Monty Python team is a part of my A-list of sitters to ask,” Ms. Harrington said, “but I was lucky to pick a very nice one.” Ms. Harrington went round to Terry's house in South London to take some photographs for the painting. “We took a few in his office where he was researching for his Chaucer and Medieval Lives television series and books.”

“So when she came round to take some photos,” continued Terry, “we started off and I thought - I'm sure we could make this more interesting - so I said: ‘How about doing the nude organist - thirty years on?’”

Snap, snap, grin, grin, wink, wink, say no more. Terry addorned the customary tie and even swapped the chair for a tiny stool to emphasize his bare behind.

While Terry may have claimed he doesn't consider himself funny anymore, “I think the portrait speaks for itself,” Harrington said, “the funny bone doesn't go away.” A point which did not escape the critics. Terry's portrait was specially selected by the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and will be shown as part of the annual RSPP exhibition (29 April to 16 May) at London's Mall Galleries. “Terry's portrait should stand out as quite an unusual and contraversial painting in the RSPP exhibition,” said Ms. Harrington, “as it is quite a high society event aimed at attracting portrait commissions.”

But Terry is thinking of a different controversy all together. “Ah time and paint have not been kind to a chap's backside...although I can assure readers that it's better in the flesh.”


* The Royal Society of Portrait Painters is devoted exclusively to the art and development of portrait painting. In June 1891 the society held its first exhibition. It included works by the members and also works from such well-known portrait painters as Sir John Everett Millais, G.F. Watts and James McNeill Whistler.