Artist claims he left a hidden reference to the Lewinsky scandal in Bill Clinton's portrait

Clinton portrait lewinskyNational Portrait Gallery/Business InsiderNelson Shanks’ portrait of President Bill Clinton with an arrow identifying a shadow the artist claims is a reference to the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Monica Lewinsky may have literally cast a shadow over a portrait of President Bill Clinton that is in the National Portrait Gallery.

In an interview with the Philadelphia Daily News that was published Sunday, artist Nelson Shanks, who painted the picture, claimed he snuck a reference to the scandal over Clinton’s affair with Lewinsky into the portrait.

“The reality is he’s probably the most famous liar of all time. He and his administration did some very good things, of course, but I could never get this Monica thing completely out of my mind and it is subtly incorporated in the painting,” Shanks said.

According to Shanks, a shadow visible next to Clinton in the portrait came from a blue dress he placed on a mannequin near the canvas when it was being painted. The artist said this was meant as a reference to the infamous dress Lewinsky wore during one of her trysts with the president.

“If you look at the left-hand side of it there’s a mantle in the Oval Office and I put a shadow coming into the painting and it does two things. It actually literally represents a shadow from a blue dress that I had on a mannequin, that I had there while I was painting it, but not when he was there,” Shanks explained. “It is also a bit of a metaphor in that it represents a shadow on the office he held, or on him.”

Shanks also claimed Clinton and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, are aware of his scandal reference and want to hide the portrait.

“And so the Clintons hate the portrait. They want it removed from the National Portrait Gallery. They’re putting a lot of pressure on them,” Shanks said.

Spokespeople for the gallery and Hillary Clinton, who is widely expected to be preparing a 2016 presidential bid, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on this story from Business Insider.

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