ANDRÉ DURAND Twenty-First Century Paintings

JOHN PAUL II (SECOND VERSION) by André Durand (2004) (pope, papal, official portrait, polish, Rome, Karol Józef Wojtyła, Vatican)



Dimensions: 150 x 144

Oil on linen



The second version of Durand’s portrait of The Blessed John Paul II, Karol Józef Wojtyła

Durand’s implacably objective portrait of John Paul II was on loan to many institutions and churches for two decades before it was finally hung in the place for which it had been commissioned and painted, the Knights of Saint John’s seat in Krakow. The portrait’s inimitably resulted in demands for copies, but Durand declined numerous requests (one from Armand Hammer of Occidental Petroleum) for a second version.

However, last year in celebration of the 25th anniversary of John Paul II’s pontificate, Durand took up the challenge of painting a second version, to fulfill a request from Westminster Cathedral.

Writing to Dr. Andrew Ciechanowiecki, who had arranged the 1982 sittings for the official portrait, Durand says,

“I felt that it would be an interesting experience to copy such a widely reproduced picture painted three decades ago. I was surprised by how well the original version was conceived and composed. Without any conscious intent, John Paul II has aged in the second portrait, possibly because I did not strictly adhere to the idealized proportions of the 1983 version. In the second version, the Holy Father’s right foot appears at the bottom of the composition in a shining black leather shoe (not his Doc Marten’s). I can imagine doting nuns polishing these shoes after every jaunt he takes. This foot could be considered iconic because Pisces rules feet, and the fish is the symbol of Christianity.”

The same letter reveals a technical reason for the second version. In the early nineties Durand began to paint on a heavily grained Belgian linen which allowed the artist to achieve effects of greater luminosity and density of colour by a highly sophisticated and complex application of glazes. No doubt Durand, the consummate craftsman, saw an opportunity to compare his new methods to the techniques of the previous two and a half decades :

“I have used much heavier grained linen in the past decade that affords my brushwork a greater plasticity. I know why the Venetians had a penchant for rough textured cloth.”

As Cecil Gould observed, John Paul II’s coat of arms was significant in the original version, but in the second version, Durand is not only minded to emphasize the coat of arms, but adds the ailing pontiff’s humble motto as a poignant focus:

“A banner under the papal crest appears in the second version inscribed with the words ‘Totus Tuus’ which I suppose is about the offering that John Paul II made of his life to the Queen of Heaven.”



André Durand
Cappella Cybo-Soderini
Santa Maria Del Popolo, Rome

John Paul II, the people’s pope, whose deeds spoke more powerfully than his words, was one of the least painted popes, preferring to devote himself to his ministry. This consuming passion to bring his personel ecumenical message of love and peace to all humanity, regardless of religious convictions, allowed little time to pose for the countless artists who wanted to paint his likeness. André Durand’s official portrait, commissioned by The Sovereign Military order of Malta, must be the only portrait of John Paul II for which the pontiff granted not one, but three audiences.

On display in the Basilica of Santa Maria Del Popolo, Rome, in October and November 2012 is the second version of the 1983 official portrait (private collection Kraków, Poland), painted by André Durand in 2004 to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of the Polish pontificate.


André Durand
Cappella Cybo-Soderini
Santa Maria Del Popolo Rome

Giovanni Paolo II, papa del popolo, le cui gesta parlavano più forte delle sue parole, è stato uno dei papi meno dipinti perchè preferiva dedicarsi al suo ministero. Questa grande passione di portare il suo personale messaggio ecumenico di amore e di pace per tutta l’umanità, indipendentemente dalla loro fede religiosa, ha lasciato poco tempo per posare per gli innumerevoli artisti che volevano dipingere il suo ritratto. Il ritratto ufficiale di André Durand, commissionato dal Sovrano Militare Ordine di Malta, è l’unico ritratto di Giovanni Paolo II, per il quale il pontefice ha concesso non una, ma tre udienze.

In mostra nella Basilica di Santa Maria Del Popolo, a Roma, nel mese di ottobre e novembre 2012 è la seconda versione del ritratto ufficiale del 1983 (collezione privata Cracovia, Polonia), dipinta da André Durand nel 2004 per commemorare il Giubileo del pontificato Polacco.