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Appearing the picture of precociousness, it was the portrait that set Rory Stewart apart from his Eton peers. With his blue-green eyes staring boldly out of the painting, the mere commissioning of the oil on canvas suggested that the 18-year-old was the one to watch among his early-1990s contemporaries.
He may have been an unfamiliar name to many until recent weeks, but his former college masters were so confident the star pupil would reach dizzying heights that celebrated artist Ursula Wieland-Lambach was commissioned to paint him in 1992.
According to Philippa Martin, the Eton keeper of fine and decorative art, Stewart was one of “a very small proportion of boys who had leaving portraits painted”. She said: “Eton has a long tradition of ... leaving portraits dating back to 1754. For the first 100 years, two or three boys would be chosen every year, but it has been far fewer in recent years and now it is relatively rare.”..