Described as 'one of our most distinguished portrait painters in what is, presently, a Golden Age of Portraiture in Britain', Adam Birtwistle is known for his deeply revealing portraits. Instead of the flattering conventions of eighteenthcentury Grand Manner portraiture, Birtwistle diminishes the grandeur and deflates the ego of everyone who sits for him. "There are many ways of revealing the real person," says Birtwistle, "I set out to make them feel uncomfortable by ordering them around. Then I confuse them. I tell them it's all going to be very easy, then I make them sit down, tell them not to move and hold their heads in a fixed position for a very long time. I ask them, what's the worst thing you have ever done? Quite soon they're looking shaky, just as I want them."
Born in 1959, Adam Birtwistle is the son of the composer Sir Harrison Birtwistle. Two paintings by Birtwistle - a portrait of his father, and one of Elvis Costello (Declan McManus), belong to the National Portrait Gallery's Collection. In 2000, he was invited to paint portraits of six composers, including Mozart, Beethoven, Verdi, Janacˇk, Britten and again his father, Sir Harrison, whose operas were featured during the 2001 Glyndebourne Festival. He has subsequently painted portraits of artists David Hockney, Craigie Aitchison and Peter Blake.