Presidential portrait sparks new dress debate - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Presidential portrait sparks new dress debate

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This portrait apparently contains a reference to Monica Lewinsky's blue dress. Photo: Nelson Shanks/National Portrait Gallery This portrait apparently contains a reference to Monica Lewinsky's blue dress. Photo: Nelson Shanks/National Portrait Gallery
The full portrait by Nelson Shanks. The full portrait by Nelson Shanks.
KHQ.com -

Nelson Shanks, the artist who painted a portrait of former President Bill Clinton almost a decade ago, says if you look closely in the painting, you can see the infamous blue dress worn by Monica Lewinsky portrayed in the shadows.

The oil on canvas painting was unveiled at the Smithsonian Institution's National Portrait Gallery back in 2006. Shortly after the reveal, observers noticed the president wasn't wearing his wedding ring in the portrait.

On the left side of the mantle, Shanks says the vague shadow overlaying the painting literally represents a shadow from a blue dress that was on a mannequin while he was painting the portrait, but not when Clinton was there.

Shanks says of all the high-profile people he's painted - which includes the likes of former President Ronald Reagan, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Pope John Paul II and Princess Diana - Clinton's was the hardest portrait to capture. That's because, as he told MSNBC, "the reality is he's probably the most famous liar of all time."

The celebrated painter said he couldn't rid "this Monica thing" from his memory, so he needed to find a way to incorporate it in the portrait. "It is also a bit of a metaphor in that it represents a shadow on the office he held, or on him," he said.

Shanks says the Clintons "hate the portrait" and want it to be removed from the National Portrait Gallery, but the museum denies that claim.

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