An artist who painted a portrait of Captain Sir Tom Moore which now hangs in the National Army Museum hopes it will help people who view it in the future to remember the “lovable person that he was”.
The picture was unveiled at the museum in Chelsea, west London, in August to mark the 75th anniversary of VJ Day.
Sir Tom did not get the chance to see it in person but artist Alex Chamberlin said he had been informed the veteran liked the finished portrait.
Mr Chamberlin had made a socially distanced visit to see Sir Tom a few months before, to take the photos he needed to paint the picture.
The artist, a fellow former soldier, described him as “lovely” and said they discussed their mutual respect for the Army and what it means to be a veteran.
He said such a work takes on a whole new meaning after someone has died.
Mr Chamberlin told the PA news agency: “When someone dies, a painting takes on a totally different significance. It goes from a nice thing to have to a vital memory and tribute.
“I think what’s interesting about the Captain Tom portrait is that we were all involved in the lockdown, and he kind of was the image of the first lockdown.”
People will see the image of Sir Tom wearing his military medals and be reminded of the first lockdown and what it meant to them, he said.
“In terms of the painting, it just has another resonance and I think when people go to see it they’ll remember him as the man and the lovable person that he was,” the artist said.
“And then you’ll think about your own lockdown I think when you see it because the imagery is synonymous, the medals and the blazer just goes with that period and it will mean different things to different people.”
Mr Chamberlin said he hopes Sir Tom’s family can view the portrait in the museum – which is closed due to the lockdown – and “have a moment” to remember their loved one.
He said: “In time, I would love to be able to show the picture in person to the family in a quiet and understated way because I think it’s only when you see it on the wall in the museum that you realise, in that quiet place, you have a chance to have a moment.
“And he’s there and it’s him as someone who’s alive, and he’s still living in the picture.”