Dame Vera Lynn portrait to hang on display at Royal Albert Hall

Dame Vera Lynn boosted the nation's morale during the darkest days of World War Two
Dame Vera Lynn boosted the nation's morale during the darkest days of World War Two

A portrait of Dame Vera Lynn painted by the acclaimed Norwegian artist Ross Kolby and commissioned by The London Mint Office is to hang on display at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

The forces’ sweetheart, who turns 102 in March and lives in Ditchling, said she was delighted about the news.

She said: “It was a pleasure to meet Ross earlier this year and I am delighted that he is painting my portrait. I have seen the draft sketch and it is wonderful how he has managed to include so many of the key elements of my life into the painting.

“I am very excited to hear the completed portrait will be housed in the Royal Albert Hall, which is a great honour.

“I have performed at the Royal Albert Hall on many occasions during my career and it will be very special to have a permanent presence there.

“My sincere thanks go to the London Mint Office. The association with this well-regarded organisation is an honour and I am especially grateful that my children’s charity will benefit from the project.”

Dame Vera performed at the Royal Albert Hall on 52 occasions. Her most recent was the BBC Radio 2 D-Day 70 Years on concert in 2014.

Liz Harper, archive manager at the Royal Albert Hall, said: “Dame Vera has played a special part in the Hall’s storied history, performing here more than 50 times between 1937 and 2006.

“As we look ahead to our 150th anniversary in two years’ time, we’ll be spotlighting our venue’s unique heritage more than ever, and we’re delighted to accept this portrait of Dame Vera as part of those celebrations.”

The London Mint Office is part of the Samlerhuset Group which produces the medal for the annual Nobel Peace Prize, and worked with artist Ross Kolby on The Kings of the Liberation.

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Ross said: “It is a true honour to be able to portray Dame Vera, who by her personality and her dedication became the heart of a nation. Through her music, BBC broadcastings and travels she spread hope, inspiration and joy to both the Allied forces as well as to the public all over the world during WW2.

“Dame Vera is a symbol of the uniting of countries and peoples that brought down the dark forces in the world during WW2. This uniting is no less important today, and she remains a true inspiration of how much one single person can mean and do in difficult times.

“I am delighted to work with The London Mint Office on this project, and it is a true honour that the painting will find its place in the Royal Albert Hall.”

Ross is famous for his portraits The Kings of the Liberation, a triple portrait to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Norway from German occupation.

The paintings feature the three generations of Norwegian monarchs attached to the events of the Second World War, and now hang in Norway’s Resistance Museum in Oslo.

Ross met with Dame Vera at her home in Ditchling and made sketches that he is working from for the painted portrait.

It will be made in oil on wood and will have a handmade, high quality wooden frame. The size of the portrait will be approximately 90cm x 70cm.

Daniel Penney, managing director of The London Mint Office, said: “Dame Vera is an iconic figure who has illuminated the world with her astonishing voice, her personality and sincerity.

“The London Mint Office is excited and hugely honoured to be working with Dame Vera, and with an artist of Ross’ calibre, and our many thousands of collectors can look forward to something really special during 2019.”