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After the death of the Princess of Wales on August 31, 1997, I began visualizing a portrait of Diana, to deal with my intense feelings about the abrupt, senseless and swift manner of Diana’s death.

I didn’t know Princess Diana, but like so many
others I was deeply touched by her life and her death. As a painter, I have always dealt with feelings by painting them out on canvas. That’s what I did here. The painting, then, is probably more about what I felt than about Diana herself, but I hope it rings true and captures something special about her. I wanted the painting to be about her tenderness and vulnerability, and her love for her sons. Just for myself, I titled the picture, “ I love you Wills, I love you Harry,” and I painted to those feelings, which I know were a big part of Diana’s life. I chose to show Diana with no jewelry in a simple black dress, because beauty like hers needs no adornment.The painting took shape quickly, and, when completed, it was cradled in a simple gold leaf frame.

Just days from finishing, I happened to watch Elton John on The Oprah Winfrey Show. I was touched by Elton's sadness, so I immediately decided to give him my painting. My friend
Bill Reid, a concert promoter, put the painting, along with a letter from me, in Elton’s dressing room.

Louis Briel
October 10, 1997

Around the world with Elton John ...

A few days later I received a note:

Dear Louis,

Thank you so much for the beautiful portrait of Princess Diana - it really is extremely good. I am going to
take the canvas on tour with me, so that I can look at it every night before I go on stage. Then, the portrait will be sent to my home in England. You are a very kind man and the gift is much

Much love, Elton J.

*The painting is featured
(Page 163) in a new book “Diana in Art,” compiled by Mem Mehmet, Chaucer Press, Summer 2007.

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