London-based artist Sal Jones, whose paintings were featured in the recent exhibition, Dear Christine: A Tribute to Christine Keeler, has painted another portrait, ‘The Last Laugh,’ based on a candid photo taken by the pool at Cliveden during that fateful summer of 1961.
This image of Christine is a far cry from the press images or posed images we so often see of her; she looks happy and carefree….it’s a spontaneous smile. The original photograph was taken at Cliveden House in July 1961 when she first met Profumo, in fact he probably took it. Little was she to know what would develop from this time on; perhaps the last real ‘happy’ time before the scandal that took over her life?
The painting’s title – ‘The Last Laugh’ (has a double meaning to it – obviously, quite literally – it could be seen as the last time she laughed prior to the ‘affair’) but more than that, in this image it feels like she could be in control, is laughing at society. A liberated, emancipated woman who shocked a morally uptight public and went on to bring down a government. I like to think she has the last laugh.
Another new work from Sally is based on a 1954 photograph of Marilyn Monroe by Nahum Baron (who was once a member of the exclusive Thursday Club, alongside fellow Monroe photographer Anthony Beauchamp, the Duke of Edinburgh, and by strange coincidence, Dr. Stephen Ward, who brought Christine Keeler to Cliveden.) ‘A Smile for a Smile‘ was made in collaboration with Noah, a young artist from Essex who asked others to complete his paintings as part of a lockdown project which has attracted more than 100 contributors.
I really liked the way Noah had used complimentary colours of blue and orange in large energetic sweeps in the background against white and the raw cardboard. I wanted to keep as much of that visible as possible, so that the foreground and background merge. The parts I added I have kept to a more tonal range, bringing some of that bright orange into the lips. I hope you are happy with the result Noah, good luck with the exhibition and fundraising. In the photos on your Instagram page you are always smiling which gave me the idea for the subject. Who doesn’t love a Marilyn Monroe smile?