Barry Martin

These images are selected from a portfolio of grandmaster chess portraits that I have created over the past six years. Most of the grandmasters are friends and colleagues — as well as being an official artist on the chess circuit I organise and present tournaments such as the Staunton Society events, held at that famous 19th-century home of the game, Simpson’s-in-the-Strand. That was where I took the portrait of the English Grandmaster Nigel Short and his father (above right). It seemed for one split second that father and son were symbiotically connected — it is full of paternal pride and joy.

It was at the Bilbao Tournament in 2008 that I caught up with Leontxo Garcia Olasagasti (above), quietly studying his notes at the end of a game. I hadn’t posed him in any way but the idea of reflecting with reflection was too good to miss. The co-presenter of that tournament was Susan Polgar (right). The eldest of three sisters who have created a sensation by challenging the male domination of chess, Susan has competed in and won mixed tournaments. Her confidence and vivacity, as well as her beaming allure, shine through in this portrait.

Over 80 years old and still competing in serious tournaments, Viktor Korchnoi (left) is the Grand Old Man of world chess. Besides his great fame Viktor has a friendly, avuncular manner. While sitting for this portrait, the grandmaster engaged me in humourful conversation, and in his company his openness was endearing and revealing. I tried to capture the stature of the man, and at the same time his humility and vulnerability.

All images are taken from “Grandmaster Portraits”, a 25-edition portfolio by Barry Martin, which will be available to collectors. For further information, contact Cate Ferguson at

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