Hilary Mantel's new portrait sets precedent

Hilary Mantel by Nick Lord Hilary Mantel has given her seal of approval to the new portrait

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A portrait of Booker Prize-winning novelist Hilary Mantel will become the first painting of a living writer to be displayed in the British Library.

The work, created by an amateur competition-winner, will go on public display from 24 February.

The Wolf Hall author said she was "thrilled" with the finished portrait by Nick Lord.

Mantel hinted he could have a cameo role in her next novel as an artist's assistant wearing a velvet cap.

"I can see that, of course, he's a master in his own right now," she added.

The writer, best known for her historical saga about King Henry VIII's adviser Thomas Cromwell, said the experience of sitting for a portrait could influence the trilogy's final chapter, The Mirror and the Light, which is due next year.

"The painter Hans Holbein is a continuing character, and the story of Cromwell's portrait continues through the three books and it is obviously something I have thought about before.

"You realise how interesting the relationship can be between the painter and the sitter and how much is being negotiated," she added.

Mantel told the Daily Telegraph she wanted the finished portrait to "have a bit of force behind it".

"I didn't want to look as if I was just sitting, contemplating the daffodils, but as though I might have an impact in the world."

She said that the era of women being passive artists' subjects had changed.

Mantel's books Wolf Hall and sequel Bring Up The Bodies are being adapted for the small screen, and the author is remaining quiet about cast details.

But she said: "It will look like no period drama you've ever seen."

Lord, 25, from Cardiff, won the £10,000 commission to paint Mantel after being named Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year, ahead of more than 2,000 other artists.

The story of his journey to paint the prize-winning author will be told in a documentary on Sky Arts on 25 February.

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