Samuel Butler

Mr Heatherley’s Holiday: An Incident in Studio Life

1874

In Tate Britain

Artist
Samuel Butler 1835–1902
Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 921 x 708 mm
frame: 1058 x 857 x 88 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by representatives of Jason Smith 1911
Reference
N02761

Display caption

This is Butler’s largest painting and is considered his most successful. Butler himself referred to this work as ‘important’. It was however, based on a joke. Mr Heatherley, who ran an art school in London that Butler attended, is pictured fixing a skeleton. The skeleton was regularly damaged by students who would dress it up in costumes or dance with it. The ‘holiday’ referred to in the title is also intended to be amusing. Mr Heatherley was notorious for never taking a holiday, preferring to stay in London and look after his studio.

Gallery label, June 2019

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