Henry Lamb

Lytton Strachey


Not on display

Henry Lamb 1883–1960
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 2445 × 1784 mm
Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1957

Display caption

Giles Lytton Strachey (1880-1932) was a critic and biographer who established a reputation with his book 'Eminent Victorians', published in 1918. He was one of the members of the so-called Bloomsbury Group, which included the writer Virginia Woolf and the painters Roger Fry, Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. Lamb painted a small portrait of Strachey in his studio in the Vale of Health, Hampstead in 1912, and then painted this grand larger version two years later. Strachey once said that he was unable to lift a match before breakfast and this portrait shows him in a typically languid pose.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

Not inscribed.
Canvas, 96 1/4×70 1/4 (244·5×178·5).
Chantrey Purchase from J. L. Behrend 1957.
Coll: J. L. Behrend 1914–57.
Exh: Alpine Club Gallery, 1922 (15); on loan to the Tate Gallery, 1922–32; British Painting since Whistler, National Gallery, 1940 (175); on loan to Southampton, 1950–7; The Camden Town Group, Southampton, June–July 1951 (93); R.A., 1957 (224).
Lit: James Laver, Portraits in Oil and Vinegar, 1925, pp.175–6, repr.
Repr: Kennedy, 1924, pl.9; John Rothenstein, Modern English Painters: Lewis to Moore, 1956, pl.5; Royal Academy Illustrated, 1957, p.64.

The painting has considerably darkened. It was completed in 1914 and is a large version of the portrait painted in 1912 in the artist's studio in the Vale of Health, Hampstead Heath, and now in the possession of Lord Cottesloe (repr. Painter and Sculptor, 11, No.1, 1959, p.8). A red chalk drawing of the head and shoulders was sold at Christie's, 4 July 1958 (34), bought Shields, and a pencil drawing of the figure, seated in the chair, is in the V. & A. (C. 417–1962). An oil sketch related to the background, called ‘Hampstead Heath from the Vale of Health’, belongs to Richard Carline (exh. Leicester Galleries, December 1961 (7), as painted in 1914). Other portraits of Lytton Strachey, head and shoulders only, are in the possession of Mrs Vinogradoff and the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

Giles Lytton Strachey (1880–1932), the critic and biographer and an important member of the ‘Bloomsbury Group’, sat for this imposing portrait some years before he became famous with such books as Eminent Victorians, 1918, Queen Victoria, 1921, and Elizabeth and Essex, 1928.

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

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