In this occasional series, Fine Art Today delves into the world of portraiture, highlighting historical and contemporary examples of superb quality and skill. This week: Nelson Shanks, “Diana, Princess of Wales.”
It was just about one year ago, on August 28, 2015, that the world said goodbye to celebrated portraitist Nelson Shanks (1937-2015). Shanks was — in addition to his artistry — a recognized art historian, teacher, connoisseur, and collector of fine arts. A pioneer of traditional academic practice and a genius with the brush, Shanks was sought out by many of the most famous, wealthy, and powerful individuals in the world.
Among Shanks’ esteemed clientele was the delightful Diana, Princess of Wales, and his remarkable and tender portrait of the late princess earns the spotlight for this edition of “Portrait of the Week.”
Imaged in three-quarter view, Diana is shown gracefully looking left with a serene expression. Her dress is absolutely brilliant. Shanks has masterfully captured the satin texture. The deep turquoise color matches the sitter’s jewelry and highlights Diana’s eyes. The Princess’s white blouse is equally stunning, with a plumed collar and slight transparency in the sleeves. Although Diana was tragically and senselessly lost in Paris in 1997, the young mother’s royal grace and tender heart are forever captured and memorialized by this extraordinary work of art.
This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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