N04461 THOMAS HARDY 1924
Inscr. ‘R G Eves 1924’ t.r.
Canvas, 30×25 (76×63).
Presented by Francis Howard 1929.
Coll: Purchased by Francis Howard from the artist in 1929 for presentation to the Tate Gallery.
Exh: R.B.A. Galleries, September–October 1947 (24).
Lit: Bury, 1940, pp.33–4, repr. pl.43.
Repr: National Gallery, Millbank [Tate Gallery], Review of the Acquisitions, 1927–29, 1930, p.37.
Thomas Hardy (1840–1928), the novelist and poet of Wessex. The artist wrote (28 March 1929) that he had painted many portraits of Hardy during three different summers, when he had stayed with him at Max Gate. Two were shown at the R.A. in 1924 and 1928, and another was exhibited at Knoedler's, November–December 1935 (31). Portraits in other public collections include a dated picture of 1923 in the National Portrait Gallery (NPG 2498) and an undated version presented to Birmingham City Art Gallery in 1941.
Adrian Bury recalls (op. cit., p. 33) that the artist had long meditated painting Hardy: ‘His request for sittings, always something of an ordeal for an old man, was answered with pleasure and courtesy. This was ... an opportunity to study the author of Tess in his own home, surrounded by the things he loved and in the Wessex environment that he had interpreted to the world.... The portraits of Hardy were not to be achieved in a few sittings. They required several weeks of work each year for three years, Eves happy in the knowledge that the sitter was not pressed for time and was ready to collaborate until the work reached conclusion.’
The Tate Gallery also owns a portrait of Hardy by Jacques-Émile Blanche (Modern Foreign School, N03580).
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, I