Harold Riley

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Painter Of Popes And Presidents, Harold Riley, Passed Away

Harold Riley

Harold Riley, who was born in Salford and was the only artist to ever be permitted a sitting with a South African leader, passed away on Sunday at the age of 88.

An artist who was well appreciated for his pictures of a number of political greats, including Nelson Mandela, has recently passed away, and tributes have been made to him.

Additionally, he painted portraits of former United States President John F. Kennedy and three popes.

Paul Dennett, the mayor of Salford, referred to Riley as the personification of the “true spirit” of the city.

The former student at Salford Grammar School made his first sale of a painting in the city’s art gallery when he was just 11 years old. After that, he went on to study at the renowned Slade School of Fine Art in London.

Because of the commissioned portraits he did, he became famous all over the world. One of his subjects was the late Duke of Edinburgh.

Salford Cathedral still features his enormous portrait of Pope John Paul II, which was painted based on the pontiff’s visit to Manchester in 1982.

However, he is arguably most known for the piece that he made after sitting down with President Nelson Mandela six times over the course of 18 months in Cape Town and Johannesburg, with the final encounter taking place in the year 2002.

In 2017, the artist was honored with the Freedom of Salford, following in the footsteps of his friend LS Lowry, who is considered to be the most well-known artist in the city.

After completing his postgraduate studies in Italy and Spain, he moved back to Salford, the city he had always called home. Once there, he began documenting on canvas, in sketch form, and in photography scenes from what he saw to be an eroding way of life.

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