Bill Clinton’s National Portrait Includes A Spiteful Lewinsky Reference

You know what they say: hell hath no fury like a presidential national portrait painter who strongly condemns your extramarital affair. Good ol’ boy William Jefferson Clinton learned this the hard way however, after Philadelphia painter Nelson Shanks revealed this week that his 2006 portrait of Clinton includes a multi-layered reference to the Monica Lewinsky affair.

Shanks’ portrait, which features an inexplicably gaunt Clinton, has the former president posing in front of the mantel in the Oval Office, with an awkward shadow lingering over the mantel to his left. According to the artist, the shadow is not only representative of the shadow Clinton’s scandal left on his time in office — the shadow itself came from an actual blue dress.

“If you look at the left-hand side of it there’s a mantle in the Oval Office and I put a shadow coming into the painting and it does two things. It actually literally represents a shadow from a blue dress that I had on a mannequin, that I had there while I was painting it, but not when he was there. It is also a bit of a metaphor in that it represents a shadow on the office he held, or on him.”

Shanks, who has painted many a famous portrait, including ones for Margaret Thatcher and Princess Diana, suffers from an acute case of delusions of grandeur, pompously telling the Philadelphia Daily News that while none of his famous charges have made him nervous, “There are plenty of them I’ve made nervous. Especially Clinton. Oh, he was petrified,” elaborating that Clinton was the hardest to paint because the President is a “famous liar.” As Shanks puts it, the Clinton’s hate the painting, which now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery, and have tried to have it removed on countless occasions (a claim the Portrait Gallery has denied), likely due to the fact that a lunatic who who was hired to paint a former president instead projected his own judgments into the canvas.

In other news, the painting is not very good.

[Philadelphia Daily News]

[Image via Getty]