Gwen John



Gwen John 1876–1939
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 448 x 349 mm
Purchased 1942

Not on display

Display caption

Gwen John trained at the Slade School of Art in London. As a woman in a career still largely dominated by men, including her successful brother Augustus, Gwen had to struggle for recognition. It has been suggested that the self-scrutinising intensity of this image, and the isolation of the figure, registers this, but the figure retains its privacy. In recent years, her reputation has grown and now eclipses that of Augustus.

Gallery label, February 2016

Catalogue entry

N05366 SELF-PORTRAIT c. 1899–1900

Inscr. ‘G.M.J.’ b.r.
Canvas, 17 5/8×13 3/4 (45·5×35·5).
Purchased from Miss Ellen Brown (Knapping Fund) 1942.
Coll: Professor Fred Brown; bequeathed to his niece Miss Ellen Brown.
Exh: (?) N.E.A.C., April 1900 (104); N.E.A.C., Retrospective Exhibition, January–February 1925 (65), and Manchester, April–May 1925 (304); Meisterwerke Englischer Malerei aus Drei Jahrhunderten, Secession, Vienna, September–November 1927 (157); Arts Council, Ethel Walker, Frances Hodgkins, Gwen John, Tate Gallery, May–June 1952 (102).
Lit: John Rothenstein, Modern English Painters: Sickert to Smith, 1952, p.163.
Repr: Burlington Magazine, LXXXI, 1942, p.236; John Rothenstein, The Tate Gallery, 1958, p.102.

Said by people who knew the artist to be one of the best likenesses of her; probably painted soon after she left the Slade. It appears in the background of a self-portrait of Professor Fred Brown, dated 1920, now in the Ferens Art Gallery, Hull (repr. Artwork, No.23, 1930, p.151).

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, I


Tate Etc

I think if we are to do beautiful pictures, we ought to be free from family conventions and ties Gwen and Augustus John

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