Artist behind shadowy Clinton portrait lived in Memphis - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Artist behind shadowy Clinton portrait lived in Memphis

(Source: CNN) (Source: CNN)

The artist responsible for a controversial portrait of President Bill Clinton spent several years in Memphis.

Nelson Shanks lived in Memphis in the 60s. He's painted everyone from Princess Diana to Pope John Paul II. Shanks even taught at Memphis College of Art from 1964-1965.

But he's now making headlines for what some people are seeing in a portrait of President Clinton.

Left of the president there's a shadow, and now we're learning what that shadow really is. Shanks told the Philadelphia Daily News the shadow came from a blue dress he had sitting on a mannequin while he was painting.

But the combination of that shadow, and the fact that President Clinton does not have on his wedding ring, have many wondering if there's more to the story.

"I was aware that it was a blue dress, and it had a certain echo--let's say--of some history that we're aware of," Shanks said alluding to the Monica Lewinsky scandal that plagued Clinton's second term in office. "A shadow across the administration, across Mr. Clinton's presidency."

Shanks called his subject "The most famous liar of all time."

Now, the portrait is in storage in the basement of the Smithsonian


Shanks is convinced the Clintons told the museum to pull it down, but the museum denies those allegations. The museum says the portrait is in storage as part of a standard rotation.

"I think the painting should be seen by the public," Shanks said. " The National Portrait Gallery should not be intimidated by whomever is intimidating them."

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