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  • Photography by Mr John Balsom

This month, Vanity Fair magazine named him one of 2014's best-dressed men, alongside Messrs Colin Firth, Eddie Redmayne and Pharrell Williams. Last year the celebrity gossip website Gawker called him "the hottest guy in the world". At the age of 51, Mr Rainer Andreesen has never been in more demand both as a model and as a painter.

"It was a total shock," he says bashfully of his Vanity Fair recognition. "It's an honour, of course, but it's also quite intimidating when you look at who else is on that list."

Originally from Prince Rupert in British Columbia, Canada, Mr Andreesen lives in a jaw-droppingly stylish penthouse apartment in Manhattan's West Village with his partner of 15 years, the actor Mr Victor Garber (of Argo and Titanic fame). While they count the city as home, they spend as much time as they can at their house upstate in Highland Mills, about an hour's drive from New York, where Mr Andreesen has his studio.

I am largely inspired by a lot of the old masters, but John Singer Sargent is someone that is a constant influence and inspiration to me

"I have been painting in oils about 20 years now," he says. "I am largely inspired by a lot of the old masters, but John Singer Sargent is someone that is a constant influence and inspiration to me."

Even out in the country – where he often works long days in concentrated isolation – Mr Andreesen likes to be well dressed, and this secluded rural hideaway on eight acres provides a fitting canvas to showcase the collection of relaxed casualwear synonymous with Polo Ralph Lauren. "This is the kind of wardrobe I need here," he says of a brown check blazer worn over a soft green knit. "It fits in well with the surroundings, the colours are right for fall and it's comfortable while still smart."

Here in his studio, Mr Andreesen specialises in painting oil portraits to commission. Through word of mouth and good connections he has built up a strong client base, including the likes of Messrs Bradley Cooper and Ben Affleck.

Inspiration comes in the form of his partner. "I've painted Victor maybe 15 times," he says. "Victor is like a second pair of eyes for me. If I am having a tough time with a painting, he is always there with a great critique. He really helps me through the whole painting experience."

While painting is undoubtedly his vocation, Mr Andreesen estimates that he currently spends 60 per cent of his time in front of the camera and 40 per cent behind the canvas. "At least today I can do a bit of both," he says. "Right now I am so far behind on my commissions I don't know how I am going to get them all done. But I'm not complaining. It's been a very, very good year so far."

Styling by Mr Dan May, Style Director, MR PORTER
Words by Mr Dan Rookwood, US Editor, MR PORTER

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