A painting of Malala Yousafzai is to be auctioned at Christie’s in New York in aid of the Malala Fund. Called “Girl Reading”, it is by Jonathan Yeo, known for painting celebrities like Nicole Kidman, Dennis Hopper, Prince Philip, Tony Blair, and David Cameron.
Saara Pritchard, of Christie’s in New York, said: “Jonathan has an incredible perception of the portraits that he paints and of the sitters that he paints. I think it’s very evident for anyone who sees this painting that this is a very young and beautiful girl, but also one who is very powerful and that is in particular conveyed by her eyes and her gaze which is completely captivating.”
Yeo first met Malala in 2013 when she was recovering from being shot in the head by the Taliban for promoting education rights for girls. Since then, she has continued to campaign, and has been showered by awards including being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
When they met in New York, Malala said how amazed she was by the portrait: “You saw me two times only and you just drew a sketch. So I just would like to know like how you did this painting only by looking at a sketch or taking some pictures? Because I was not there when you were painting it.”
Jonathan Yeo explained some of his working method: “Yes you are right. The sketches we did and the photographs were all very useful and important. But the other thing that’s important is spending a bit of time with somebody and getting a sense of their personality in a way that informs the whole mood of the painting and what you are saying with it. In a way that is the most important thing of all. And I think often when you are depicting somebody who is well known and people already have ideas about from seeing them on television in the media and in photographs, it’s important to work out if that’s the real person or not. “
Malala’s portrait is expected to fetch up to 80,000 US dollars when it is sold on May 14.