Make me look good!

Artists have been making portraits of the mighty for centuries—from Velázquez’s Philip IV to Lucian Freud’s Elizabeth II—and the act of portrait-making can leave the royal or the tyrant, the President or the diplomat with a sudden feeling of disequilibrium, of a transfer of power.
This past September, when nearly all the world’s leaders were in New York for a meeting of the United Nations, Platon, a staff photographer for this magazine, set up a tiny studio off the floor of the General Assembly, and tried to hustle as many of them in front of his lens as possible.
History is full of leaders who cannot bear the result of their sittings. Winston Churchill publicly praised a portrait of him by Graham Sutherland, but soon decided that it made him look senile. His wife, Clementine, destroyed it. Usually, it seems, politicians seek out a portrait artist at the beginning of their career.
But the anxiety persists. While political theatre went on inside the General Assembly, Netanyahu kept stopping by Platon’s makeshift studio and repeated his request: “Make me look good.”

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