Contemporary British Artist
From Kenneth Stevenson, 6 August 2009:
"I can't tell you how much joy the portrait is giving us, and I know that the family will love it too. It's hard to single out aspects, so I won't, but you are very perceptive, talented and deep and I want you to know how much this is appreciated."
From a letter to Kenneth Stevenson from the Rt. Rev. James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool:
"What a splendid portrait! It radiates your personality and conveys so much of what you offer to us - an independence of mind and spirit, a scholarly detachment yet pastoral discernment, a magisterial authority tinged with a quizzical defiance; and shining through (for there is a beautiful use of light) a raw humanity which reflects that light from above."
Colin Dexter, 21 May 2011:
"You have a gift, to get who the person is on the canvas, and that's very rare."
Colin , July 2011:
"A wonderful cook is our Celia,
About the same standard as Delia.
And she made all the viewers feel good,
On the set when co-acting with Gielgud.
Always too when she's painting our faces,
Her portraits are genuine aces.
Indeed, such is mine - a most typical gem -
Each brush stroke by Celia M."
From Sir Peregrine Worsthorne, 12 February 2012:
"Over the years I have been lucky enough to be asked to sit for a number of painters - mostly women - but none of them has made the experience so painless - indeed so pleasurable - as Celia, whose concern for the comfort of the sitter is quite exceptional. Not that this exceptional courtesy is wholly selfless since the sitter in return, is only too happy to give up as much time as the painter requires. In my case there were over ten three-hour sittings extending through the summer, by the end of which I had had time to study the painter quite as much, and quite as intently, as the painter had had time to study me. So far as I am concerned the many hours spent were wholly worthwhile because both the portrait and the painter are now very close to my heart. Not that the portrait, to my eye, is particularly flattering. I still think my mouth is slightly twisted, as if I had suffered a mild stroke. Proudly, however, we hang it in our dining room, dominating the room, to universal acclaim."
From Neil Dudgeon, about his finished portrait,
7 December 2010:
"It feels like a part of me. You have biopsied my soul."
22 May 2012:
"I loved sitting for you and as you know long to do so again if you can bear it. It was a fascinating and lovely experience. It feels rather therapeutic to be able to just sit still and quieter in a room though of course so interesting and lovely are you, that I found it impossible not to talk the whole time. And having one's picture painted felt like such a treat and an honour; such a special thing to do (or rather, have done) I would urge anyone, especially anyone with an interest in art or in themselves, to spend as much time as possible with Celia Montague and if you can get her to paint you into the bargain, you will have a heavenly time!"
From Antony Beevor:
"Celia Montague's portrait is very powerful and as a great admirer of her work, I was not surprised when I saw the finished version. I loved chatting with her, but I could never keep my head in the same position, and I could not possibly keep the same expression. (Few sitters, I suspect, can maintain a smile, which is why portraits often look so serious). I then realised that I needed a focal point, so I moved a small alabaster bust on the chimneypiece behind her so that it was just to the side of her face. That and putting on my favourite music - baroque trumpets and Venetian concertos - made me a much better sitter."
From David Palmer
“Celia’s painting sits in our front hall, where everyone who visits us sees it. It has deservedly drawn universal acclaim. “She’s really got you – you have been very lucky with your artist”.
Sitting for me was a novel experience – I had not done it before, and was not very good at sitting still. Celia was hospitable – white wine and scratch lunches appeared from nowhere; charming; and very firm in what she wanted – mostly that I sat still. I must have spent about 20 hours in her attic studio, being asked to gaze at her at a distance of eight feet. It took me some time to get used to this, but I got there in the end.
When I saw the portrait for the first time, I was immediately thrilled. It is now a daily feature of my life.
It was Celia who persuaded me to wear my sailing shirt, after much three way debate with my wife. She was right – small boat racing has been integral to my life for 65 years, and remains so."
1st March 2015