Henry Tonks

Portrait of the Artist

1909

Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Frame: 980 x 770 x 85 mm, 9 kg
support: 806 x 597 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by Hugh Hammersley through the Art Fund 1917
Reference
N03231

Display caption

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.

Gallery label, September 2004

Catalogue entry

N03231 PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST 1909

Inscr. ‘Henry Tonks 1909’ b.l.
Canvas, 31 3/4×23 1/2 (81×59·5).
Presented by Hugh Hammersley through the National Art-Collections Fund 1917.
Coll: Hugh Hammersley by 1911.
Exh: Coronation Exhibition, Shepherd's Bush, 1911 (787); Tate Gallery, October–November 1936 (22).
Lit: Hone, 1939, pp.81 and 85.
Repr: Studio, XLIX, 1910, p.3; Apollo, 111, 1926, facing p.1 (in colour); Studio, CXIII, 1937, p.84.

Painted when the artist was living at 88 Edith Grove, S.W.10; shortly afterwards, in the winter of 1910–11, he moved to The Vale, Chelsea.

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