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Alas­tair Bar­ford was mo­ti­vated to learn to paint from life af­ter his mother died. ‘I pro­duced a por­trait of her from a pho­to­graph,’ he says. ‘I was dis­ap­pointed, as it con­veyed noth­ing of our re­la­tion­ship.’ Study­ing in Florence for three years, he spent his days learn­ing how to grind paints, draw­ing and paint­ing, and ev­ery spare mo­ment sketch­ing. It was a dream ed­u­ca­tion – but he could not have imag­ined that his first com­mis­sion would be to paint a por­trait of the Queen.

He had just ten min­utes to ob­serve Her Majesty, at an Or­der of the Garter ser­vice in Wind­sor – then he worked from mem­ory and pho­tographs.

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