Sir Gerald Kelly
The Jester (W. Somerset Maugham) 1911

Artwork details

Sir Gerald Kelly 1879–1972
The Jester (W. Somerset Maugham)
Date 1911
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 1016 x 762 mm
frame: 1213 x 961 x 113 mm
Acquisition Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1933
Not on display

Display caption

Somerset Maugham was enjoying his first success as a dramatist when his friend Kelly painted this costume portrait. It was not a commission, but was painted for exhibition and sale, with the reputation of Maugham as a bonus. Kelly had just taken smart rooms off Lowndes Square in Belgravia, and chose to emphasise the correct social poise of his sitter, wearing morning dress and grey top hat. The two men were the same age, were both Irish, and had been friends in Paris. Kelly painted Maugham many times through his life, often showing him in character: the title here refers to his famous wit. The portrait served as an advertisement for Kelly's practice, and contrasted with the bohemianism of his rivals William Orpen and Augustus John.

August 2004

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