Tuesday, 18 November 2008


Meeting John Paul II was a life-changing experience. There was an unusual force that just emanated from his presence. When painting his portrait, I was in an altered state, seemed like in a trans of submission. The portrait came about practically without my participation. All lines and colors practically placed themselves. I had no control over my hand. It seemed remotely directed by some kind of a force. After finishing, I wanted to make a smaller copy for Father Dziwisz, but it didn't come out well. Until today, I do not know how was it possible.
I was privileged to portray His Holiness The Pope John Paul II in the Vatican, on the 17 November 1999. The sitting took place thank to the efforts of Lady Belhaven and Stenton, who is a close friend of Bishop Stanislav Dziwisz, then the assistant to the Pope. She is the one, who has arranged and organized the miracle.
The portait was liked at the Vatican so much that I was commissioned to paint two more portraits of the Pope soon afterwards. Upon returning to London, we printed thousands of cards with the painting. They were being sold among followers. This way we raised funds for the General Sikorski monument in London. On the 29th of November, the day of my birthday, I received a letter written by the Secretary of the State of Vatican:
"Dear Madam, On behalf of His Holiness The Pope John Paul II we thank you for the gift of having painted His portrait. I wish to asure you that the portrait has been very highly valued by many and is liked by all. The Holy Father refers you and your family to Divine Providence and is blessing you for further artistic work. Yours sincerely, ArchBishop Giovanni B."

Published by Evita Ramparte

Sunday, 9 November 2008


My husband's uncle Sir Ian Hamilton was a general. Badly bitten at the battle of Gallipoli, during the World War I. What did not prevent him from becoming the dean of the Edinbourgh University and become friends with Sir Winston Churchill.
My husband and I live together in the royal county of Berkshire, near Windsor, but the family estate of the Hamiltons is located in Caithness, in northern Scotland and is neighbouring with the May Castle, where the Queen would often spend her vacation. Each year in August, she would throw a big party for her birthday. This is how I met her. It was at the time of big changes for Poland. When she found out that I was Polish, she said: 'I pray for your country.' She was very tiny and till the end of her life (she died in the age of almost 102!), she would wear high heels. Even at her last party, she welcomed the guests at the hight.
I painted her in 2000, in her London home - the Clarence House. She came at the session very elegant, wearing a hat. She entered the room, looked at me and asked: "Is this allright?" It was important to her to look good at the portrait, and the fact that she was 100 years old, did not matter.
She spoke of Poles with a lot of respect. She remembered the Polish pilots, who fought the Battle of England. We know from documents that together with her husband King George VI, she has visited the base of the 300 and 301 Divisions. It was her desire that her portrait was put at the General Sikorski Museum in London.
The conversation was about horses and horse races. The Queen Mother, despite her age, she was full of vigour and not for a moment did she lose her witt. In one moment only, she has asked whether she can close her eyes for two minutes. Strong light coming through the window has made her tired. When she closed her eyes, as a painter, I was silently hoping the noble lady will be take a longer nap, what would allow me to focus better on the painting, but after two minutes, the Queen Mother has opened her eyes and said: "I'm back." And continued the conversation from before.
Before the first session, I went to the Sikorski Museum and borrowed an archival photo of Her Majesty and King George VI, taken on the 7th of March 1941, when the royal couple paid a visit to the Polish army base in Scotland. The Queen Mother took a look at the photograph and said: "I even remember, where it was taken! It was in Forfare."
The second sitting was forseeded with a little family catastrophy. My husband left the house later than planned. I wanted to be there even beforehand - set up my equipment, relax a bit, feel the atmosphere of the place. It turned out impossible. I couldn't possibly hide my upset mood. I have asked Her Majesty:
- Did your husband George also didn't want to do what you wanted?
- Oh no! Our husbands never do what we want. That's what husbands are like! - she replied with laughter.
Her humor, her witt came up again. She was capable of quick, crispy conversation. I have presented Her Majesty with the newest edition of the memoirs of my husband's aunt - Lady Jane Hamilton. The Queen Mother once knew her well.
- There are lots of anecdotes in her book. - I said showing the photo of the two ladies together.
- Anything indescreet? - She asked. - Nothing? Oh... What a pity!!

Published by Evita Ramparte


A coincidence. Many years ago I had an exhibit at the Polish Club 'Ognisko' at the Exhibition Road, in London. 'Country Life' - a prestigeous magazine - made a note of it, with a small portrait of a Russian Prince George Vassitchikov. Prince Michael of Kent registered it, since it was his friend. He came over to the Polish Club to have a look at those paintings. Next day, his secretary called me on behalf of the Masonic Order and commissioned a portrait of the Prince. I nearly fell of the chair!
Prince Michael of Kent was the first member of the Royal Family I have painted. The painting was placed at the Masonic Lodge. He printed the portrait on Christmas cards and sent out to all his friends. Thank to this, portrait comissions started to roll. I have portrayed his older brother - Prince Edward, his children, grandchildren and many renown personalities. Recently, there was a vernisage of my exhibit at London Gallery at Partidge Fine Arts at Mayfair. There were crowds. The connessaeur of painting Baron Villem van Dedem, President of FEFAF, Mastricht Art Fair, has commissioned a portrait of his wife.

Published by Evita Ramparte

Tuesday, 4 November 2008


My favorite is pastel. I spread them with my finger tips on the paper. It's an old technique. Used already by Leonardo Da Vinci. Very popular in 18th century. I like it. It's very convenient. Once at the Buckingham Palace, I was supposed to paint Princess Ann. Entered and saw that they spread sheets all over the room. They were thinking, everything will be splashing. 
I sometimes use oil. An oil portait takes more time. Though, it gives a lot of pleasure to the artist, as it allows for more detail.

Published by Evita Ramparte


My philosophy of portraiture is similar to that od Philip Alexius de Laszlo. The renown Hungarian painter lived in 19-20th centuries and had a great success in England. I think about the portait painting just like he did. It is not about truth. It is about pleasure. I present my sitters the way they would like to see themselves. The best pose, the most elegant outfit. I emphasise those characteristics that are most beautiful about the person. The portrait has a right to be more pretty than the sitter. But for example Lucian Freud, a great contemporary painter, has a totally opposite concept. His portrait of Elisabeth II is excellent, but few like it. 
One would ask: is it not better to take a photo? A photograph shows everything with detail, but does not show everything. A good portrait moves by its ambiance, inspires, makes us intrigued, makes us wonder: who is there behind the face? Like here on the portrait of the Duchess of York and her children - Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice, painted in 1994. It is one of my favorite... 

Published by Evita Ramparte


I studied at the Art Academy in Gdansk, North of Poland. My professors at didn't want to hear anything of portraiture. They taught us conceptual art. Avangard. After the diploma in 1972, I moved to Venice to continue studies at the Accademia di Belle Arti. At the first exhibit in Rome, I have presented my abstract paintings and only one portrait. The visitors have gathered only to admire the portrait. After few days, my telephone started ringing. First orders came.
I Italy, I have painted old fisherwomen in Sardegna, the famous Prince Raimondo Orsini, then considered the most handsome man in Italy. As well as, the writer Alberto Moravia. During the session, he was turning and twisting, and kept asking about Poland. Finally, I could not take it any more and said:
- You keep talking all the time. I can't paint!
He got very upset and replied to me:
- You are a painter and I am a writer. So if I keep posing for you, you keep talking!

Published by Evita Ramparte