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Artist's work 'accidentally' becomes Bailiff's official portrait

Artist's work 'accidentally' becomes Bailiff's official portrait

Thursday 10 October 2019

Artist's work 'accidentally' becomes Bailiff's official portrait


A painting of the Bailiff by a London artist has 'accidentally' become Sir William's official portrait.

Ahead of their retirement, Jersey's Bailiffs normally choose an artist from a prestigious list of the UK's top portrait painters to hang in the Royal Court, but so enamoured with a work by figurative oil painter Alex Chamberlin was the outgoing Sir William Bailhache that he decided to buck the trend.

Sir William posed for Mr Chamberlin in the Bailiff’s chambers two years ago and the result was unveiled in the Royal Court on Tuesday, little over a week before his retirement.

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Pictured: The portrait has pride of place in the Royal Court building.

The portrait was not originally meant to go on display in the Royal Court, as it was merely painted as part of a series that Mr Chamberlin has been working on for the past few years.

“The idea of the show is to start from the position of me being an artist and reaching through people that I know that know other people to ask them to sit for my portfolio,” the artist explained.

“At the end of it, I would be doing an exhibition with everyone coming together. It was meant to be a two-year project, but I am meeting so many interesting people that I just want to see how far I can reach and how many different people I can get.”

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Pictured: The portrait of Sir William was not originally meant to be an official one.

Sir William “kindly” agreed to take part in the project and sat for Mr Chamberlin when he visited the island two years ago. He then visited the artist’s studio during a trip to London to see the work in progress.

"Sir William was very generous with his time and very kind," said Mr Chamberlin, who also thanked Jane Rueb, the Private Secretary to the Bailiff for her patience and help in organising the sitting. 

While portraits are usually painted by an artist from the National Society of Portrait Artists selected by the Bailiff, Sir William decided to take a different route. 

Sir William was so fond of his portrait by Mr Chamberlin that he picked it to be his official representation to hang alongside the likeness of other Bailiffs before him - a "major honour" for the artist.

Sir William's portrait shows him sitting on a red chair in his Chambers, in his red robe, surrounded by books. Unlike other Bailiffs, Sir William is not facing the painter but instead looking to the side, seemingly deep in thought.

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Pictured: Sir William's portrait sits on the right side of the Seat of Justice.

Mr Chamberlin traveled to Jersey for the unveiling on Tuesday and was amazed to see the portrait placed on the right side of the Seat of Justice - where the Bailiff, Deputy Bailiff or Lieutenant Bailiff sit during Court. "I think it's a fantastic place for it," he commented.

The Lieutenant Governor, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton and Lady Dalton, Sir States Members, as well as members of the Court, including the Jurats, Advocates and Greffiers, and other members of the public gathered in the Royal Court for the unveiling. 

The Deputy Bailiff, Tim Le Cocq – who will be sworn in as the Bailiff next week - joked about having both Sir Michael Birt and Sir William on his shoulders while he sits in court. 

He said the island had been “exceptionally well served” by Sir William, and praised him for his “boldness”, which he said some would “only hope to emulate”.

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Pictured: Sir William's last sitting in Court will be tomorrow.

The Deputy Bailiff also thanked Sir William for “the friendship, support and good humour”, noting his door had always been open apart from “one notable exception” due to a dispute over contract law. 

Describing Mr Chamberlin’s portrait, the Deputy Bailiff said it was a “truly excellent portrayal” which captured Sir William “to a tee". 

In his speech, Sir William thanked the Deputy Bailiff for his kind words, adding it had been an “absolute pleasure” to work with him.

He described having his portrait hanging in the court room – which he called his “home away from home” – as a “real honour,” before adding: “What you don’t know is what I am thinking about!” 

GALLERY: Portraits of past Bailiffs...

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