Sacha Newley - The son of Joan Collins and the late actor Anthony Newley, the 45-year-old artist was born in New York and spent his early childhood in Hollywood. But after his parents’ divorce (his 2008 Self-Portrait with Happy Family recalls the period before their split), he moved with his mother to England, where he eventually studied briefly with the realist painter Lance Richlin. For the most part, however, Newley taught himself by looking at the masters and exploring various subjects, from landscapes he painted in coastal Lyme Regis to the self-portraits he began in 1985. His passion for portraiture, he says, originated in a very personal place—his father’s face. “It was so expressive. I loved to watch it as a kid. Later I grew fascinated by what faces hid from me.”
Based in New York since 2000, Newley often travels to his clients’ homes, where he makes sketches and takes photographs to use as references for the finished portrait. “I sort of morph into another person when I’m in another place,” the artist says. “I even dress differently”—a blazer and cashmere, say, as opposed to the color-stained khakis and Obama baseball cap he was wearing in his studio the day we met.
Newley, who likes to imagine a rebirth of “the kind of society portraiture John Singer Sargent painted with such depth,” had just returned from several sittings in Palm Beach with Nadege Kalachnikoff, the wife of antiques dealer and decorator Lars Bolander. She wanted a portrait for her sons, now in their thirties, “to have when she’s gone,” the artist says. Newley was also recently commissioned to paint Charles and Clo Cohen, the bicoastal real estate developer and his wife, who have lately become prominent society figures. “They were much younger than I expected, and such fun,” Newley says. Portraiture, he adds, “is very social.”
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