Artist: Bill Clinton portrait has secret Lewinsky reference

By Danielle Haynes Follow @DanielleHaynes1 Contact the Author   |  March 2, 2015 at 3:31 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 2 (UPI) -- Nine years after it was painted, a Pennsylvania artist says he added a secret reference to the Monica Lewinsky scandal in a portrait of former President Bill Clinton.

It seems that even though Clinton specifically chose Nelson Shanks to paint his portrait, the artist wasn't quite as enamored with the president.

He told the Philadelphia Daily News he found it difficult to paint Clinton for the piece that now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery.

"The reality is he's probably the most famous liar of all time," Shanks said. "He and his administration did some very good things, of course, but I could never get this Monica thing completely out of my mind and it is subtly incorporated in the painting.

"If you look at the left-hand side of it, there's a mantle in the Oval Office, and I put a shadow coming into the painting and it does two things. It actually literally represents a shadow from a blue dress that I had on a mannequin, that I had there while I was painting it, but not when he was there. It is also a bit of a metaphor in that it represents a shadow on the office he held, or on him," he said.

A USA Today photo from 2006 showing Shanks painting the piece appears to show a blue dress on a stand directly in front of the portrait scene.

Shanks said "the Clintons hate the portrait" and asked to have it removed from the gallery. A representative of the gallery told UPI the Clintons have not asked for the painting to come down.

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