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See First Blood
"We're seeing a mythical fantasy of the prince after the hunt"
 real 28k

André Durand on his painting
"The controversial element is the blood"
 real 28k

Thursday, 15 June, 2000, 15:59 GMT 16:59 UK
Blooded but not bowed
Durand and painting
André Durand regards Prince William as his new muse
By BBC News Online's Megan Lane

Painter André Durand, best known for his "fruity" depictions of the late Princess of Wales, is preparing to unveil his latest work in his online gallery.

In First Blood, a work destined to have art critics choking on their Chardonnay, Mr Durand depicts Prince William decked out in ermine robes with a dead stag and his face blooded.

The coming-of-age portrait will be posted on the internet when the prince turns 18 next Wednesday.

Mr Durand told News Online that a gallery in Chelsea, London, had agreed to host the event but had since backed out for fear the work would be too controversial.

One hopes that zillions of people will log on and have a look

André Durand

Not only does the coming-of-age portrait depict a hunting scene - an image almost guaranteed to cause a stink given the long-running debate over fox hunting - but a furore broke out this week about the prince's right to privacy.

"There's this idea that the prince is some sort of thing that the media can't touch, can't get involved with," says Mr Durand, a London-based Canadian.

"I didn't even invade the prince's space to paint the picture, and secondly, it is only a painting and it has got nothing to do with fox hunting."

'Worst painter'

Mr Durand, once dubbed the "worst painter in the world" by art critic Brian Sewell, instead decided to unveil the work on the internet.

First Blood
The Turner Prize, eat your heart out

"One hopes that zillions of people will log on and have a look."

An American businessman, Joseph Michenfelder, who sponsors Mr Durand's website, commissioned the work two years ago.

"It was Mr Michenfelder's idea to have a website, he thought that that might be a way to get around Brian Sewell, or have a go back at him."

Mr Durand waxes lyrical about the symbolism of blooding as a rite of passage.

"(It's) that extraordinary experience when you've killed the first animal, you've wilfully set out to make it your prey, and had that warm blood on your face."

Isn't the ritual an oddly archaic way in which to depict a thoroughly modern prince?

"That's the joy of it, that's the symbolism of it, that's why it makes a painting. It's a rite that is as much for the animal as for the hunter, because there is a sacredness in putting the animal's blood on the hunter's face."

But wait, there's more

His earlier works in the Windsor series include Princess Diana as a clown in a pizza parlour, and Prince Charles astride a stallion in his robes of state, flanked by his sons in baseball caps.

William seems to have his mother's gift with the media and he has her beauty

André Durand

More fanciful depictions of the Royal Family are in the pipeline - Mr Durand is putting the finishing touches on a posthumous tribute to Diana, and has painted William in a wetsuit.

Mr Durand says his fascination with the Windsors started when Diana married the Prince of Wales.

"It was the beauty of her that inspired me, and (the beauty) of her sons - particularly William. He's like a template of his mother."

When Diana died nearly three years ago, Mr Durand says he received more than 50,000 emails expressing sympathy that he had lost his muse.

"William seems to have his mother's gift with the media and he has her beauty. Therefore, I have a new icon in male form as a source of inspiration."

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See also:

14 Jun 00 | UK
Turner shortlist unveiled
13 Jun 00 | Entertainment
Britney animated over Prince William
16 Sep 99 | UK
Fox hunting: The issues
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