Jagger's favourite artist to make oil painting of IDS

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He has rendered Jerry Hall in oils and his portrait of Mick Jagger hangs in the rock star's home. Now Paul Benney, an artist of international fame, is about to secure another glamorous commission - a likeness of Iain Duncan Smith.

MPs are to offer the portrait painter £10,000 to bring the former Conservative leader to life, The Independent on Sunday has learnt.

Although the House of Commons advisory committee on works of art shelved plans for a picture of Mr Duncan Smith earlier this year, it has now revived them. Mr Duncan Smith had irritated MPs on the committee by refusing its initial choice of artist, reportedly nominating a relative instead. The impasse had made it likely that he would be the first party leader since Hugh Gaitskell, who led the Labour Party in the 1950s, to go withoutan official portrait at the taxpayer's expense.

Hugo Swire, Conservative MP for Devon East, revived the project two weeks ago. His suggestion of Mr Benney, who has studios in West London and

New York, has been adopted by a reluctant committee. "We could hardly turn him down," a weary committee member said last night. "Whether Mr Benney wants the job is another matter."

The artist is a prize-winner in the BP Portrait Awards. His portrait of the publisher and trustee of the National Portrait Gallery, Baron Weidenfeld, is in the London gallery's collection.

He hinted yesterday that he would accept the job. "I have been approached but I don't want to say anything more unless it is confirmed by the committee," he said.

If work begins, Mr Benney can look forward to 16 hours of Mr Duncan Smith's company - eight two-hour sittings.

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