Henry Tonks

A Girl with a Parrot

c.1893

Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 457 x 311 mm
frame: 547 x 394 x 57 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by W.C. Alexander through the Contemporary Art Society 1917
Reference
N03186

Display caption

The artist makes us feel like an intruder in this painting as we witness the private world of a young girl. Dressed in a nightgown and gently brushing her long hair, she sits before a full length mirror studying her reflection. A parrot  watches the mechanical repetition of her brush strokes.

The small size of the painting draws our attention to the intimacy of the scene that Tonks has captured, a moment in the girl’s childhood which adult viewers may regard with sadness or even envy.

Gallery label, September 2004

Catalogue entry

N03186 A GIRL WITH A PARROT c. 1895

Not inscribed.
Canvas, 18×12 1/4 (45·75×31).
Presented by W. C. Alexander through the Contemporary Art Society 1917.
Coll: Purchased from the artist by Charles Conder, d. 1909; (?) Mrs Conder; Cecil Lawson, from whom purchased September 1912 by Charles Aitken from a fund provided by W. C. Alexander with a view to its being accepted by the Trustees of the Tate Gallery; refused by the Tate November 1912; presented to the C.A.S. for eventual presentation to the Tate early in 1913.
Exh: C.A.S., First Public Exhibition in London, Goupil Gallery, April 1913 (28); Tate Gallery, October–November 1936 (24).
Lit: Hone, 1939, p.50.
Repr: Studio, XLIX, 1910, p.10.

Hone describes this, with works of 1893–5, as ‘Another work that came early ... an example of perfect handling of oils, fluent and yet modest in effect, which moved Charles Conder to great admiration’.

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