Bishop's smile immortalised in portrait by wife

The Bishop of Hereford's artist wife has years of painting behind her but admits it was a fresh challenge to capture her husband's much loved smile for his retiring portrait.

The diocese's bishops have had their portraits painted since the 16th century. Bishop Anthony Priddis was painted by his wife and his portrait is ready to hang on the walls of The Palace, the Bishop of Hereford's official residence, when he retires later this year.

His wife, Kathy Priddis, is an established portrait painter but painting her husband stretched her skills.

"Everyone said I must paint him smiling, because that's how they think of him. But to paint a smile is unusual and it presents an extra challenge," she said. "It can easily become a grimace. It wasn't easy but we got there in the end, I think."

While the other bishops' portraits are in the traditional head and shoulders style, Bishop Priddis is painted standing in the Garden Chapel. The unconventional portrait pose was something they decided upon together.

"We wanted that setting because he's by nature an outdoor man, but also the restoration of that garden as a chapel dates from when we arrived," added Kathy.

Bishop Anthony and Kathy celebrate their Ruby Wedding anniversary this year and some people did wonder if it would be too difficult for Kathy to paint her husband objectively.

"The pressure was on to paint the face that everyone would recognise, but at the same time there was obviously that element of intimacy," said Kathy.

The portrait took over 300 hours to complete and the finished work measures 36 by 48 inches. It will hang alongside the portraits of bishops going back to Herbert Westfaling who became the 75th Bishop of Hereford in the year 1586.The diocese was founded in 676.

Commenting on his portrait, Bishop Priddis said: "I think it's great, but others are the ones to judge."

The portrait will be on display during his farewell service in the cathedral on 7 September.