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New Portrait Unveiled: John Hume

On Monday 7th November 2022, a new portrait of John Hume by artist Colin Davidson was unveiled at an event at Portcullis House.  Commissioned by the Speaker’s Advisory Committee on Works of Art, the portrait permanently joins the Parliamentary Art Collection. 

Four people view a portrait of John Hume, the painting in the centre showing a man with grey hair holding his glasses on his face with his left hand in a blue shirt with the collar visible. To the right stands a person with a beard and check suit and the back of another person's suit and head, looking toward the portrait; to the left of the image a person with curly dark hair in a white jacket is speaking and another person in a black suit and white shirt. The background is a blue curtain pulled apart to show the painting.
House of Commons unveils official portrait of Nobel Prize winner John Hume. [L-R] Claire Hanna, MP for Belfast South, John Hume (Jnr), son of the late John Hume, Colin Davidson, artist, Colum Eastwood, MP for Foyle and SDLP Leader. Credit: ©UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

John Hume (1937-2020)

Hume was a founding member of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) in Northern Ireland. He was MP for Foyle from 1983 to 2005 and a Member of the European Parliament from 1979 to 2004.  His work on the Northern Ireland peace process earned him the Nobel Prize for Peace (with David Trimble), the Gandhi Peace Prize, and the Martin Luther King Award.   

Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP said,

John Hume was one of the true giants of Northern Irish politics. An advocate for democracy across these islands and beyond, it was important for the House to ensure that Hume was finally represented in the Collection.   

He was also one of the most important and impactful parliamentarians of his generation, and is greatly missed by colleagues and Members – both here in Westminster and in Europe. Colin Davidson has captured a wonderful likeness, and the Committee and I are delighted to accept this work into the Parliamentary Art Collection.

The Artist

Colin Davidson was born in Belfast and educated at the University of Ulster.  He was President of the Royal Ulster Academy from 2012 to 2015.  Since 2010, his practice has focused on portraiture, producing large-scale paintings found in collections across the world.  Davidson had previously painted Hume in 2016, and the sketches that Davidson made during their sittings in Greencastle were used to inform this new painting.

Colin Davidson said,

Six years ago I was honoured to spend time with John Hume, drawing and sketching a man who had become a personal hero for me. Over the last year, I have revisited these drawings and created something new – a different portrait painting which, I hope, captures John’s focused vision and strength of character.   

John meant so much to so many people across these islands. We would not have peace in this part of the world without him, so it is appropriate that this new portrait of John Hume will hang in Westminster now for people to visit and hopefully draw inspiration from. I am grateful to both the Committee – and of course the Hume family – for the privilege. 

Portrait of John Hume. At the bottom of the image, the collar and shoulders of his blue shirt are visible, collar undone at the top. His left hand adjusts his rectangular glasses frames with smudge on left hand lens. His grey hair is combed back. The artist’s paint strokes are visible.
John Hume, Painting by Colin Davidson © UK Parliament WOA 7738 

About the Commission

The Speaker’s Advisory Committee on Works of Art commissions works that record the history, place, and personages of Parliament.  In 2021, they commissioned this posthumous painting.  It is Parliament’s first portrait of Hume, who was one of the most important politicians of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.   

You can zoom in to see the details and texture of the painting on this page.

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November 8, 2022