Darby has high hopes for Sam

It was the corporate promotion that almost scuppered Brendon Darby's latest Archibald Prize hope.

Arranged for a warm Saturday last month, Mr Darby's planned first sitting of his subject almost did not happen following Sam Walsh's sudden promotion to chief executive of Rio Tinto. Instead of several sittings in Mr Walsh's Peppermint Grove home, Mr Darby was left with just one - albeit lasting four hours - because of the now London-based Rio boss's new work schedule.

"Normally I would like three, four or even five sittings," Mr Darby said yesterday as he sent his portrait of Mr Walsh to Sydney for judging for this year's Archibald prize. Titled London (Sam Walsh), the 1.4m high and 1.8m long oil-on-canvas depicts an earnest-looking Mr Walsh peering out from a window on a rainy day.

"I was surprised that he wanted a serious Sam, rather than a very happy person," Mr Walsh said yesterday. "But Brendon has captured my essence, albeit my serious side, and also the London drizzle that I have become very familiar with over the past month."

Mr Walsh and wife Leanne have long been admirers and collectors of Mr Darby's work. Archibald finalists are announced on March 14.

Peter Klinger

The West Australian

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