Tonks was teaching at the Slade School of Art when he painted this self-portrait. As a teacher, Tonks placed a lot of emphasis on figure drawing, and here he puts this into practice by sitting next to a window to show the effects of light and shade on his face. His legs are positioned close to the viewer, enabling him to demonstrate the rules of foreshortening.
Tonks was known to inspire terror in his pupils, and this is apparent from his sober clothing and stern expression, which are barely softened by the soft furnishings of the room.
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