Skip to content
Skip to navigation menu


The art of science

20 June 2011

Martin portrait WEBProfessor Sir Martin Evans with the portrait

A new portrait of Cardiff University’s Nobel Prize winning President, Professor Sir Martin Evans, has gone on display at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

The portrait, painted by prize-winning artist David Cobley, emphasises the groundbreaking discovery made by Sir Martin in 1980 when he became the first scientist to identify embryonic stem cells which have applications in virtually all areas of biomedicine, from basic research to the development of new therapies.

The portrait depicts Sir Martin examining cultures in a Petri dish. The writing in the background is a replica of a page of Sir Martin’s notebook on the culture of embryonic stem cells. Cobley was keen to show Sir Martin’s gentleness and curiosity, while creating a dynamic composition that illustrates a key moment of scientific discovery.

When working on the portrait Cobley visited Sir Martin at Cardiff University and at his home to work up sketches in pencil and oil as well as taking numerous photographs. He encouraged Sir Martin to go into detail about stem cell research and was invited to his investiture as President of the University in 2009.

Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery said: "This is an important new portrait of a very significant figure. I am delighted that David Cobley has created such a compelling portrait."

Sir Martin won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2007 - the most prestigious honour in world science- for a breakthrough which is transforming modern medical science. He is heralded worldwide as "the father of stem cell research" and named as one of "ten Britons who have shaped our world."

Speaking about his portrait Sir Martin said: "It is a great hour to be featured by the National Portrait Gallery. I am absolutely delighted to have had the opportunity to be painted by such an eminent portrait painter as David Cobley. I totally admire his astounding ability."

David Cobley is a member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and was shortlisted for the Holburne Portrait Prize for 2004 for his portrait of Ken Dodd, now part of the National Portrait Gallery’s Collection.

Related Links

Nobel Prize for Medicine awarded to Professor Sir Martin Evans