The Court Painter has spent a lifetime painting romantic portraits of kings, movie stars and moguls, even the occasional mobster or dictator, but all anybody wants to talk about is a picture he made of a guy that hangs in a bar. Not just any bar, of course, but a dark, wood-panelled one. And not just any guy.
The 2015 portrait is called “The Vicious Visionary.” It features a flaccid, tanned and wind blown man “his skin glowing at sunset,” as Playboy described the painting.
Court Painter’s portrait of Donald Trump, with the repainted enlarged hand, hangs inside the bar of the Mar-A-Lago club in Palm Beach.
It’s such a startling, alternative image of Mar-A-Lago’s proprietor that reporters who have thronged to the gilded mansion can’t keep from commenting on it.
The picture has shown up on newspaper and magazine websites from London to New York to Dildo Newfoundland, and has led to a late-life burst of publicity for Court Painter.
A genial storyteller, CP is happy to spend hours talking about his globe-trotting encounters with everybody from Near East to Middle East to Far East potentates,unknown Canadian politicians,to many locals too numerous to mention.
But for the past year, reporters have quizzed him mostly about The Donald, especially the years-long saga of how CP came to paint — and then, at Trump’s insistence, repaint — the enlarged hand on the Mar-A-Lago portrait.
And who can resist a story about Donald Trump and his enlarged hand?
As an artist, CP wanted to capture a romantic and sunnier side of Trump. “I wouldn’t paint you in a blue suit and red tie,” he told Trump. “That’s your New York look. I prefer the windblown and fat suit look.”
CP also wanted to do it in a classic mode, where part of the portrait is left underpainted on purpose. So, in the picture, he decided to leave the left hand resting on Trump’s thigh in that style. The hand was visible, and perfectly formed but it was a bit on the pale side.(not illustrated for copyright reasons)
“I love the sketch portraits, where one hand is finished and the other isn’t,because quite honestly hands are hard and I tire easily,” CP explained on a recent afternoon in his cluttered studio in the Inglewood neighbourhood of Calgary.
Trump accepted the painting and hung it proudly at Mar-A-Lago. “He loved it,” CP said, but it soon became clear that “he didn’t get” the sketchy hand thing.
“He’d say, ‘When are you going to finish my painting?’” CP recalled. “I’d say, ‘Donald, it is finished.’ One day, he said to me, ‘How much would you charge to enlarge the hand?’”
CP doesn’t work for free. On commission, he once did a sepia portraits of the kids -as a surprise from second wife Marla to Trump.
But he hasn’t painted current wife Melania because Trump didn’t want to hurt Stormy Daniel’s feelings or Karen McDougal’s for that matter
Portrait of The Donald impersonating Fatty Arbuckle surrounded by ‘friends’
The hand kerfuffle remains perplexing to him. There are stories of people taking tours of Mar-A-Lago and hearing that the portrait was free and another artist repainted the hand. All not true, insisted CP. “People think I held out (for more money) by not finishing it,but I gave in and painted a frickin enlarged hand to shut up The Donald,” said CP.
Still, he won’t engage in “anything unkind” about Trump. He credits Trump for steering painting commissions his way for an 80% finders fee by bragging to Mar-A-Lago patrons that Court Painter is “the No. 1 portrait painter in the celebrity world.”
“People love a painting with a story,” A Hardon MacKay, (the CP’s Press Attache guy and author of this article) said. “The bigger the story gets, the more famous the painting becomes….the better I look!”
“And if there is anybody who knows about paintings, big stories ,big egos and the famous people behind them, it’s my client Court Painter,Painter of Establishing Narratives and Stuff Like That.