Some years ago, I came across a late-medieval painting at the National Portrait Gallery. I was struck by it because the painter had included in this pieta his patron, staring boldly out at the viewer. I've searched online but can't find it - so here's a sketch I did of it at the time (note that I updated the patron, with a pinstriped suit).
Since then, I've always been rather drawn to the idea of including a patron in a work of art. After all, the great writers in my novel - Defoe, Swift, Pope - were always up for name-checking their sponsors. If it was good enough for those three, it's good enough for me.
But why not use pictures, too?
If I had been alive when, say, Swift was writing Gulliver's Travels, and if he'd asked me for a few quid to support him in writing and publishing that groundbreaking novel, I'd have leapt at the chance. Here's a few quid, Jonny, I might have said - just make sure you get a good likeness of me among the Lilliputians. Something like this, perhaps:
Well, I missed that chance.
But you, happily, have not missed the chance to be pictured in MY novel. Hurrah!, I hear you say. Because for a paltry total of £120 you can upgrade your current pledge and ensure literary immortality as one of the rich, powerful or talented characters in the book. (If you have pledged more than that sum already, this additional feature will cost you just £90 more).
I've already got one pledge for this - you know who you are! Thank you! - and another face has been taken by somebody who substantially inspired me in writing this book. He's a hugely successful writer, campaigner, improvisational performer and champion of a certain approach to clothing. Can you guess who he is?
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