A portrait of Glastonbury festival founder Michael Eavis by English pop artist Sir Peter Blake has been unveiled at the music festival.
The portrait, unveiled on Blake’s 90th birthday, was commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery (NPG) in London in 2019, and will be displayed at the venue when it reopens in 2023 after building works are completed.
The portrait shows Eavis, 86, standing in front of the famous Pyramid Stage at Worthy Farm in Pilton, Somerset, where the festival is being hosted for the first time in three years following cancellations due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The five-day music and arts event, one of the largest of its kind globally, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
Eavis, who organises the festival alongside his daughter Emily Eavis, said: “I’m so pleased to have been painted by my old friend Peter … a rare treat for a Somerset dairy farmer!”
Eavis grew up on Worthy Farm and joined the British merchant navy as a young man. He returned to the farm at the age of 19 following the death of his father. In 1970, 16 years after inheriting the 150-acre dairy farm, he hosted the first Glastonbury festival, which has been held on the same site ever since.
Both Eavis and Blake have been awarded CBEs – Eavis in 2007 and Blake in 2022 – in recognition of their contribution to the arts.
Blake has close ties to the music world. He is best known for co-creating the sleeve design for the Beatles’ album Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. His other best-known works include covers for two of the Who’s albums, the cover of the Band Aid single Do They Know It’s Christmas? and the Live Aid concert poster.
In 1991, he produced a screenprint for the NPG titled T for the Beatles – a reprise of his 1962 Beatles painting – and the gallery also displays his double portrait of the art dealer Leslie Waddington and his wife, the antique jewellery expert Clodagh Waddington.
Blake said: “I visited the first Glastonbury in 1970 and have loved the festival ever since. After receiving the commission, we took Michael for lunch at a fancy West End restaurant. He arrived resplendent in his trademark denim shorts, which stopped the restaurant in its tracks.
“I knew then that I had to include them in the portrait. I hope my painting encapsulates Michael’s free spirit, joyful energy and love of life.”