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EXCLUSIVE: Malcolm Turnbull as a 'fat, greedy, c…'

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The painting of Malcolm Turnbull that he reportedly described as making him look like a “big, fat, greedy cunt’’, might have been destroyed, but these are the sketches that portrait artist Lewis Miller worked from to create the image that supposedly offended the multi-millionaire, former Goldman Sachs investment banker and future Prime Minister of Australia.

Study for portrait of Malcolm Turnbull I

Miller completed the sketches of Turnbull and his wife Lucy in 1992 at the family’s country home in Scone in the Hunter Valley in New South Wales.
The Melbourne artist was invited to spend a few days sketching the Turnbulls at Scone on a commission arranged by his Sydney dealer Ray Hughes. Lewis had previously been commissioned by the couple to paint portraits of their two children Alex and Daisy.
“It was very pleasant and relaxed,’’ Miller told Daily Review. “They had some friends staying with them and I observed and sketched.”
The Turnbulls had been so pleased by the portraits of Alex and Daisy that they wanted Miller to paint each of their portraits.

Study for portrait of Lucy Turnbull

“I had this idea of to do a pair of portraits as a kind of reference to the famous portraits of the Duke and Duchess of Urbino by Piero della Francesca,” he said.
The famous Renaissance portraits held in Florence’s Uffizi gallery were painted in the mid-1400s. The duke was a “leader of mercenaries, skilful strategist an a great patron (who) turned Urbino into a refined and renowned cultural centre,’’ according to the Uffizi gallery guide.
Each of the Piero della Francesca portraits sees the busts of the husband and wife painted in profile in the foreground with the surrounding Urbino countryside as background– “to emphasise the majesty of the court of Urbino”.

Studyweb1 for portrait of Malcolm Turnbull II

“Malcolm didn’t know those paintings,’’ said Miller, but the banker was happy to go along with the artist’s approach. Lewis placed him (a more portly Turnbull than he is now) in profile with the Hunter Valley as background.
The Turnbull portraits were completed by Miller back in his St Kilda studio working from the sketches and photographs. The final works were delivered to Hughes who handed them on to the couple.
“I got the impression from Ray that their reaction was cool,’’ Miller said.
The artist has no idea where, or if, the Turnbulls hung the paintings. Some time later, Miller used the sketches from the Scone sittings to complete the portrait of Turnbull he had planned to enter in the 1994 Archibald Portrait Prize.
He regrets going ahead with the painting without first asking Turnbull. “I was a young artist,” Lewis told Daily Review. He destroyed the painting and all photographs of it when he heard of Turnbull’s response to the painting. According to The Art Newspaper, Turnbull told Hughes: “That artist of yours is no good; he’s made me look like a big, fat, greedy cunt”.
Hughes (pictured in Lewis’ sketch below) reportedly responded: “He’s a realist painter, you know”.
Drawing of Ray Hughes
Miller has been shortlisted for the Archibald Prize 16 times and won it in 1998 for his portrait of artist Allan Mitelman.

22 responses to “EXCLUSIVE: Malcolm Turnbull as a 'fat, greedy, c…'

  1. It’s a word. If that offends you, but Turncoat’s greed, corruption, betrayal and rape of our nation don’t, your priorities are seriously fucked up.

  2. Actually I think everyone comes out of this story rather well. It’s all very Aussie.
    But one does wonder if people are now going to call him – or are they already – a Turnc***.

  3. However you spell that word, Turbull’s self description and Hughes’ comment made me laugh harder and longer than I have for a long time.
    In fact since Turnbull showed us that what he believed before getting the gig is not what he practices now.
    Perhaps he should have had the perspicacity to add devious and hypocritical to the list of qualifiers for the c word.

  4. but surely Turnbull is far more offensive in pursuing his agenda than in using the word cunt, and it was him using it, after all

  5. Everybody just always remember that Turnbull described Australian artists as “visciously ungreateful”. To a rich banker C*** artists are servants to the rich and not worthwhile people like he and his wife and their mates are. Turnbull will prove a huge disappointment his party will see to that.
    When will Turbull apologise to Australia’s artists and creators? It is us who fund the Arts in Australia by taking low or no wages or even worse paying our money to make Australia’s culture. If artists insisted on Corporate rates of pay….well we all know it ain’t gonna happen but people like Malcolm and Lucy belive all artists are somehow living on arts grants or whatever. It really is too much.

  6. Reading this in Mexico City where I have just been to a lecture and a seminar by the famous (in Latin America, anyway) philosopher Enrique Dussel. Later I was shown around the campus of the UNAM replete with buildings entirely adorned with murals executed by a student of Diego Rivera. The work was actually begun by Diego Rivera himself. My guide pointed out a wall with an unfinished mural by Diego. Apparently one of the more obnoxious Mexican Presidents came along to observe the maestro at work. The left leaning Diego, who objected to the President’s policies spotted him and yelled out “chinga tu madre’ (‘Fuck your mother’!). The President immediately cut the funding to the University. (It is now run under the auspices of UNESCO).
    And we all know how the two million dollar mural commissioned by Rockefellow was destroyed because Rivera refused to remove the face of Lenin in a crowd scene. Now there was an artist with the integrity to ignore the precious sensitivities of the privileged elite!!

  7. It is really delicious this whole story – as the “agile” wily, slippery fellow does his best to wriggle his way away from one of his earlier faces. Thanks Warwick – for your references – I will be in Mexico City in a number of weeks and will look out for the murals you reference – as well as calling in to George Town (GC) where I have someone searching out the post office box where Malcolm is warehousing some of his 7-Eleven/other profit-taking millions – rather than have them work for Australia – like so many of his vested interest mates.

  8. Magnificent article Ray. That person, the Fabio of Australian politics saw his reflectioin in that painting and for a second saw the truth. The fragile psyche of the narcissist then turned to its default position of pretension and rejected what he saw.

  9. Isn’t Mal’s life a study in trying to prove there’s nothing wrong with being a fat, greedy c***? After all, some of his best friends are….

  10. Thank you for posting this article again.
    I wouldn’t have believed it myself , I just thought Ray Hughes was embroidering a good story, but it seems to have been verbatum!

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