What’s it like to have a painting of Stephen Harper, wearing nothing but an inscrutable smile, hanging over your sofa?
Danielle Potvin knows. The former federal public servant, it turns out, is the secret buyer of “Emperor Haute Couture” by Kingston, Ont., artist Margaret Sutherland.
The controversial canvas imagines the former prime minister as a reclining nude, a dog at his feet. A coterie of business-suited servants forms the backdrop, one proffering a cup of Tim Hortons coffee on a tray.
Potvin purchased the painting in June 2012 for $5,000, when she was still a government employee. Now she’s retired and she’s ready to part with it. Potvin is hoping to sell it on Kijiji for $8,800 to pay for home renovations.
“I was thinking it was so audacious and very fine political art,” said Potvin, sitting beneath the painting in her living room in Gatineau, Que. “Most of the people are very, very shocked or amused. It’s a conversation piece.”
Potvin kept the purchase a secret from everyone but relatives and close friends after she was warned by her human resources department that “it would be professional suicide to reveal myself as the owner.”
I don’t know what’s the most chuckleworthy detail of all this: the fact that the soon-to-be-former secret owner of this painting is a retired public servant, the fact that her surname is Potvin (pronounced, roughly, “pot van”), or that the artist was, very likely, being generous with the endowments of the, er, Emperor.
Other than all that, though, it’s rather a good likeness, don’t you think?