Peter Greenham

Father d’Arcy

1975

Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 762 x 521 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1979
Reference
T02401

Display caption

This portrait depicts Father Martin d'Arcy (1888-1976), a Jesuit priest and a leading Christian thinker of his day. Father d'Arcy was also a writer, lecturer and broadcaster, and was Master of Campion Hall, Oxford from 1933 to 1945. This portrait was painted from life between May and June 1975. It required four or five sittings which took place at the Mount Street Jesuit Community, London, where Father d'Arcy was living. Greenham made a few preparatory drawings of the head and hands, but because the sitter frequently moved his hands they were omitted in the final work. Even so, a sense of the sitter's movement is conveyed by the use of flickering brushstrokes and blurred outlines.

Gallery label, September 2004

Catalogue entry

T02401 FATHER D'ARCY 1976

Not inscribed
Oil on canvas, 30 × 20 1/2 (76.2 × 51.2)
Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1979
Prov: Purchased from the artist by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1976
Exh: RA, May–August 1976 (369); British Painting 1952–1977, RA, September–November 1977 (149, repr.)
Repr: RA Illustrated, 1976, p.3

Father Martin d'Arcy S.J. (1888–1976) writer, lecturer and broadcaster both on radio and television was Master of Campion Hall, Oxford from 1933 until 1945. He was painted and drawn by several artists including Augustus John and Wyndham Lewis; the portrait, in oils, by John belongs to Campion Hall.

This portrait by Peter Greenham was not a commission; Mrs Brinsley Ford, who knew the sitter well, suggested to the artist that he might paint a portrait of Father d'Arcy who was living in the Mount Street Jesuit Community adjoining the Farm Street Roman Catholic church, London W.1. The portrait was painted in 4 or 5 sittings, each of 1 1/2 to 2 hours from about 10.30 am to 12.30 pm in May and June 1975 in Father d'Arcy's small bed-sitter where, being rather frail, he spent most of his time. Greenham made a few drawings of the head and the hands, which at one time were clasped together, but as the sitter moved his hands they were omitted from the finished oil.

This catalogue entry is based largely on a discussion with the artist (November 1979) and is approved by him.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1978-80: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1981