Michael Eavis says the portrait is a ‘success story for a Somerset dairy farmer’


Glastonbury Festival founder Michael Eavis said having a painting of himself on display at the National Portrait Gallery was “quite a feat” and “not bad for a typical Somerset dairyman”.

The portrait of English artist Sir Peter Blake, which was unveiled by Jarvis Cocker on Sir Peter’s 90th birthday, will be on display at the National Portrait Gallery when it reopens in 2023.

Eavis told the Glastonbury Free Press he was “worried” to see the portrait for the first time, but added that Sir Peter “is an old friend of mine”.

The portrait shows Eavis, 86, standing outside the festival’s famous Pyramid Stage at Worthy Farm in Pilton, Somerset, where the festival is taking place for the first time in three years, following cancellations due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The five-day music and arts event celebrates its 50th anniversary.

Speaking of the new portrait, Eavis told the Glastonbury Free Press: “He promised to paint me years ago. So when the National Portrait Gallery asked me for a painting, I called them and asked them to do it.

“He came to the farm a few years ago and asked me to stand in front of the Pyramid Stage.

“It took him a while to paint and I started to think he might not finish. I’m so glad he did.

Michael Eavis at Glastonbury by Peter Blake, 2022 (Damian Griffiths, image courtesy Waddington Custot/PA)

“Sir Stanley Spencer said if the sitter likes the portrait then it’s no good.

“That’s quite an achievement, isn’t it. Not bad for a typical Somerset dairyman!

Eavis grew up at Worthy Farm and joined the British Merchant Navy as a young man, but returned to the farm aged 19 after his father’s death.

In 1970, 16 years after inheriting the 150-acre dairy farm, Eavis hosted the first Glastonbury Festival, inspired after seeing Led Zeppelin perform at the Shepton Mallet Blues Festival.

The festival is now one of the largest music and performing arts festivals in the world.

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The new portrait of Sir Peter Blake was unveiled at the Glastonbury Festival (Yui Mok/PA)

Eavis was appointed CBE in 2007 due to the positive impact he has had through his work.

Music lover Sir Peter, 90, has been commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery to produce a portrait of Eavis.

The gallery also has two other portraits created by Sir Peter in its collection – the 1991 serigraph, T for the Beatles, a revival of his 1962 painting The Beatles, and a double portrait of husband and wife, art dealer Leslie Waddington and antique jewelry expert. Clodagh Waddington.

In 2022 Sir Peter was appointed CBE for his services to art.

Sir Peter added: “I visited the first Glastonbury in 1970 and have loved the festival ever since, so I was delighted when the National Portrait Gallery asked me to paint Michael’s portrait.

“After receiving the commission, we took Michael to lunch at a fancy restaurant in the West End. 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.