The oil on canvass painting “Emperor Haute Couture” by artist Margaret Sutherland shows the prime minister reclining on a lounger, surrounded by headless people in suits, and a dog at his feet.
Parliamentarians called it “a bit tacky,” “pretty close to the line,” and “esthetically offensive.”
“I don’t know if Canadians really needed to see that. I certainly didn’t,” Nathan Cullen, a member of parliament for the opposition New Democratic Party, told reporters.
Liberal MP Scott Brison commented, “I can tell you that this is one case where I think we really do need a conservative cover-up and I guess you could say in this painting, it’s quite obvious that the prime minister has very little to hide.”
The painting is on display at the Kingston, Ontario library as part of an art competition that runs until the end of the month.
Sutherland told QMI news agency that the painting is “satire” inspired by Edouard Manet’s 1863 work, Olympia.
Harper did not pose for the portrait.
The prime minister’s spokesman Andrew MacDougall reacted in a Twitter message, “We’re not impressed. Everyone knows the PM is a cat person.”