Artist's work heads to the Louvre

AN INVITATION to exhibit at the Louvre Museum in Paris is an honour most artists could only ever dream of.

Laurence Cawley

AN INVITATION to exhibit at the Louvre Museum in Paris is an honour most artists could only ever dream of.

But for Heath Rosselli, from Suffolk, it was a chance she very nearly missed out on - because of the emailed invitation was accidentally deemed to be junk mail by her computer.

Luckily, Ms Rosselli, of Worlington, near Bury St Edmunds, discovered it in the nick of time and has now agreed her acclaimed painting Evelyn will go on show there.

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The work, which has previously been shown at the National Portrait Gallery, was painted by Ms Rosselli as a way of celebrating her friend's, and former tenant's, five-year all clear from breast cancer, which had forced her to undergo a mastectomy.

It will soon sit next to Rembrandt's Bathsheba at Her Bath at The Louvre as part of a breast cancer symposium, an honour which has delighted Ms Rosselli.

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“It's pretty exciting stuff,” she said. “I was just checking my spam box when I found this little message. Basically it said they wanted my picture to exhibit at The Louvre. I contacted to tell them I would be delighted.

“For the last 10 years Evelyn has been to various places and when it has not been on tour it has just sat there on the floor of my studio.

“One of the paintings next to it is a Rembrandt - he would probably hang his head in shame!” Ms Rosselli said.

Ms Rosselli was a secretary before she became an artist. Her career change came after a marital break up left her needing a way of earning an income to support her two children.

Rather than go to art college, she asked for tuition from the artist David Henby, who lived nearby. He took her under his wing and taught her how to put her innate artistic talents to work.

It was with her painting Evelyn that Ms Rosselli shot to fame.

Explaining how the work came about, she said: “Evelyn was a tenant who worked as a special needs teacher. She had a mastectomy which some people had said to her must feel very disfiguring.

“She would say her husband was not bothered by it and how she led a perfectly happy life. She told me she had been given the five year clear, which is a big thing with cancer. We decided we wanted to celebrate it so I decided to paint her to show how she had overcome it.

“The aim of the painting was to show that Evelyn remains a beautiful and whole woman, enjoying a full life, a happy marriage, and good health.

“The response was amazing, we had all these women who had experienced breast cancer getting in touch.”

Evelyn now teaches in South Korea.

Ms Rosselli's painting will go on display at the Louvre in the New Year, and images of it will be included in posters and on the sides of buses in Paris in the lead up to the symposium, which is being run by a pharmaceutical company.

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