A portrait of the first female Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, Cressida Dick has been unveiled to mark the centenary of women in the Met.
Newly appointed member of Royal Society of Portrait Painters, Frances Bell RP, created the oil painting which has taken its place at the Met Police Training School in Hendon, alongside the paintings of 26 former Commissioners. They include Sir Cecil Frederick Nevil Macready, who on 22 November 1918, officially announced that the Met would have female police officers for the first time.
Normally painted at the end of a Commissioner’s five years in office, the idea to commission Cressida’s portrait early was borne during the celebrations to mark that very decision and the bravery of those pioneers of the past, and achievements of current Met women. Painting the first female Commissioner, during these celebrations would capture the mood and feeling of the moment, and inspire future Met people.
Painted in Frances Bell’s studio over more than 20-hours of sittings, the portrait depicts the Commissioner against the backdrop of a map of London - symbolising her long policing career in London and personal affinity with the Capital. In contrast to other portraits Cressida sat wearing her shirt uniform and no tunic.
Commissioner Cressida Dick, said: “The strength of feeling for the portrait surprised me, but I understand and appreciate that it is an important part of the 100-years celebrations, symbolises the nature of the current Met and maybe important in inspiring the next generation of Met people. I am very grateful to the artist, Frances Bell who put me at great ease and made the whole process an interesting and surprisingly enjoyable one.”
Frances Bell, who elected as a member of prestigious Royal Society of Portrait Painters Portrait last year, said: “I was thrilled to receive the instruction to paint the Commissioner through the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. It’s such a fine occasion to mark with an art work, as portraits can represent historic moments so well. 100 years of women in our police, and a female Commissioner on this anniversary is the kind of coincidence a painter can appreciate.”