UNITED KINGDOM—British artist Jonathan Yeo (pictured), the bloke responsible for creating the iconic 2007 collage of George W. Bush using cutouts from porn magazines, has been tapped by the Queen to "capture" Sir David Attenborough for the Royal Collection. The commission, notes The Telegraph, was "unlikely."
The paper's descriptor of Yeo in the headline is "porn artist," and the article goes on to note that he is best known for his porn-utilizing portraits of George W Bush and Sarah Palin. Yeo's controversial career has unfolded at a high and highly visible level, however, including early success in the 1990s when the self-taught son of a former Tory minister created portraits of actor Dennis Hopper, Turner Prize-winning artist Grayson Perry, Saville Row tailor Ozwald Boateng, media mogul Rupert Murdoch and television presenter Jamie Theakston.
According to Wikipedia, Yeo received an earlier government commission that itself led to some controversy. "Commissioned by the House of Commons to paint the three party leaders during the 2001 general election," the entry reads, "Yeo's approach upset some backbench MPs. His triptych of Tony Blair, William Hague and Charles Kennedy, Proportional Representation, was made up of canvases that were sized according to the subjects’ popularity. In 2003 he caused uproar at the highly conservative Royal Society of Portrait Painters by unveiling a full-frontal double nude of Ivan Massow, the entrepreneur and vocal patron of the arts."
Despite all of that, the current commission was approved by the Queen herself, for a portrait that apparently has more than passing importance to HRH.
"The Queen has long enjoyed a close relationship with Sir David," reported The Telegraph. "After she allowed Richard Cawston to make his unprecedented 1969 fly-on-the-wall television documentary, Royal Family, Attenborough, who was then a BBC controller, allegedly told him that it was 'killing the monarchy' by destroying its mystique and Buckingham Palace withdrew the film from public view."
When it is completed, the portrait "will be added to a collection of portraits of holders of the Order of Merit." Attenborough, whom the paper refers to as "a distinguished naturalist and broadcaster," and who turns 85 next month, "is one of only 24 members of the order, which was established in 1902 by Edward VII and remains the personal gift of the monarch."
Yeo told the paper he's had a hard time nailing down the world-traveling Attenborough, whose older brother, Richard, is the famous director and actor. "We were supposed to sit down about a year ago," he said, "but Sir David is not on email and he doesn't have a mobile phone. Unlike most 85-year-olds, if he answers his landline, it's because he is in London for a few hours before heading off for Madagascar or somewhere. He'll say, 'Oh yes, I'd love to do that, I'll be back in three months, we can sort something out then.'"
No specifics, therefore, as to when the portrait will be completed.