Michael Taylor, an artist who we have worked with for almost 10 years and who has held two successful solo exhibitions with us, is currently enjoyed a rather raised profile due to his collaboration with the film director Wes Anderson. Michael is no stranger to high profile exhibitions. Four of his paintings are in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery after all. But a new work (Boy with Apple) plays a central part in Anderson major new film, The Grand Budapest Hotel. Here Michael explains the process of producing the artwork and something of the paintings role in the film.
Film director Wes Anderson approached me in 2012 to paint a fictional Renaissance portrait to be titled 'Boy with Apple' for his next film The Grand Budapest Hotel. The plot pivots around the theft and recovery of a priceless portrait by Renaissance master Johannes Van Hoytl. Intrigued by the script and surprised to hear that he intended to commission a real portrait, I decided to come onboard. For inspiration Wes bombarded me with a bewildering selection of images by Bronzino, 17th Century Dutch painters, Durers, all kinds of stuff, even some Tudor portraits. I found this terribly confusing at first until I realized that each image contained some required element that had to be worked into the painting. He clearly knew exactly what he wanted; it was just that nothing quite like it yet existed. It was an irresistible challenge.
Ed Munro, a stage school student, was cast as the sitter. Costumes were chosen and props hired (I provided the apple) and we started what was to be many weeks of work in a suitably atmospheric Jacobean house near my Dorset home. Wes had very bravely left me alone to work on the painting for a couple of months, but as the start of filming approached we began the final work on it together. Collaborating on a picture was new territory to me, but his extraordinary attention to detail (“ the little bit of paper on the wall?…..yes, yes we must have the little bit of paper!”), good humoured patience and faith in his script somehow made it all come out right.
The film has garnered very favourable reviews, as has the painting. Jonathan Jones, writing in the Guardian, dedicated a whole column to the painting and its context. The article may be viewed by clicking this link:
For more information about Michael's work and available paintings, please contact Jamie Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Grand Hotel Budapest, starring Ralph Fiennes, is now on general release across the UK.