Lady Hale breaks from tradition with smiling Grays Inn portrait
She’s a trailblazer in more ways than one. And Baroness Hale, the first female president of the Supreme Court, has again broken new ground as she becomes the only smiling portrait to hang in the hall of one of London’s illustrious Inns of Court. Lady Hale, 73, who was appointed to the role last year, had her portrait painted by David Cobley after Gray’s Inn commissioned it to hang in the hall. The Supreme Court judge is a member of the Inn, which called her to the bar in 1969. The unconventional portrait, due to be installed in August, is only the third depicting a female judge to hang at the Inn, with one of the others also being of Lady Hale and the third showing Dame Rose Heilbron, the Inn’s first female Treasurer. It will hang alongside portraits of Lord Birkenhead, former Lord Chancellor, and Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, former Lord Chief Justice, who retired last year. In the same hall are portraits of Queen Elizabeth I, who was patron lady of the Inn, Lord Burghley, her secretary of state, and Sir Francis Walsingham, her principal secretary. Mr Cobley said the portrait had been a “privilege” to paint. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. “The other are a little more austere. Probably uniquely among them she is smiling.”The painting has also attracted comment for a pot of red ballpoint pens which is prominent at the front of the frame. Mr Cobley said they were intended to communicate the judge’s approachable nature. “The red provided a bit of colour in the foreground but it does suggest something of the common touch, which is what I referred to earlier. “Although she is at the top of her field, her profession, she does have a very easy way with her and I wanted to try and get that across if I could, to make a bit of a connection with the viewer,” he said. Lady Hale, a family law specialist, has previously been described as the “Beyoncé of the legal profession” due to her popularity among young lawyers and students. “I found Lady Hale an extremely amiable, friendly, likeable person. “She has an incredibly important job but really does have the common touch and we just got on very well. She smiles a lot, so it seemed to be a natural thing to do,” he told the Daily Telegraph. Tony Harking, under treasurer of the Inn, said: “The style of the painting is somewhat different to the others, really reflecting her very unique style.