Bill Clinton portrait features Monica Lewinsky reference, artist admits

Artist of the presidential portrait revealed that he added the shadow of the dress

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Another week, another dress controversy on the internet.

This week, the controversy surrounds a portrait of former US President Bill Clinton. The artist who painted the portrait in 2006, Nelson Shanks, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he added the shadow of Monica Lewinsky’s infamous blue dress in the portrait.

If you look to the left of Mr Clinton in the portrait, you can see the shadow on the mantle. Mr Shanks said the dress was on a mannequin in the room when he painted the portrait, just not when Mr Clinton was posing. “It actually literally represents a shadow from a blue dress that I had on a mannequin, that I had there while I was painting it, but not when he was there,” the artist told the Inquirer. “It is also a bit of a metaphor in that it represents a shadow on the office he held, or on him.”


Ms Lewinsky was wearing the blue dress during one of her sexual encounters with Mr Clinton during his time as president. A semen stain on the dress was used as evidence that Mr Clinton had an extra-marital affair with Ms Lewinsky, which the president later admitted.

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