by Gwendolen Mary ('Gwen') John
oil on canvas, circa 1900
24 in. x 14 7/8 in. (610 mm x 378 mm)
Given by the Art Fund to mark Sir Alec Martin's 40 years service to the fund, 1965
Click on the links below to find out more:
Sitterback to top
- Gwendolen Mary ('Gwen') John (1876-1939), Painter; sister of Augustus John. Sitter in 3 portraits, Artist of 1 portrait.
Artistback to top
- Gwendolen Mary ('Gwen') John (1876-1939), Painter; sister of Augustus John. Artist of 1 portrait, Sitter in 3 portraits.
This portraitback to top
This self-portrait was painted when Gwen John was at the beginning of her artistic career. She had followed her brother Augustus to the Slade School of Art in London, where she studied from 1895 to 1898, winning a prize for figure composition. On leaving she worked briefly in Paris with Whistler and returned to London in 1899, where she began to exhibit her work and where this portrait appears to have been painted. It is one of two self-portraits from this period: the other is in the Tate Gallery, and presents a somewhat wistful characterisation of the artist, whereas here the jutting hand on hip and a stance which seems deliberately to burst the bounds of the picture frame, allied to an expression of watchful superiority, indicate a much more confident view of herself.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Audio Guide
- Victorian Portraits Resource Pack, p. 39
- Cooper, John, Visitor's Guide, 2000, p. 86
- Cooper, John, A Guide to the National Portrait Gallery, 2009, p. 45
- Funnell, Peter, Victorian Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery Collection, 1996, p. 39
- Gibson, Robin, Painting The Century: 101 Portrait Masterpieces 1900-2000, 2000 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 26 October 2000 to 4 February 2001), p. 38
- Ribeiro, Aileen, The Gallery of Fashion, 2000, p. 200
- Ribeiro, Aileen; Blackman, Cally, A Portrait of Fashion: Six Centuries of Dress at the National Portrait Gallery, 2015, p. 207
- Rideal, Liz, Mirror Mirror: Self-portraits by Women Artists, 2001 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 12 September 2001 to 20 January 2002), p. 49
- Saumarez Smith, Charles, The National Portrait Gallery: An Illustrated Guide, 2000, p. 170
- Saumarez Smith, Charles, The National Portrait Gallery, 1997, p. 170
- Schama, Simon, The Face of Britain: The Nation Through its Portraits, 2015-09-15, p. 336
- Schama, Simon, The Face of Britain: The Nation Through its Portraits, 2015-09-15, p. 406
- Various contributors, National Portrait Gallery: A Portrait of Britain, 2014, p. 178
Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top
- Mirror Mirror: Self-portraits by women artists (12 September 2001 - 20 January 2002)
Subjects & Themesback to top
Events of 1900back to top
Current affairsThe Conservatives return to power, after the Prime Minister Lord Salisbury calls a general election, known as the 'Khaki election', on the back of huge jingoistic support for the Boer War. The Labour Representation Committee (LRC) is founded from a coalition of socialist groups; they win two seats in the 1900 election and Ramsay Macdonald is appointed secretary. The Labour politician Keir Hardie is also returned to Parliament for Merthyr Tydfilin Wales.
Art and scienceGerman physicist Max Planck proposes the concept of the quantum theory. Sigmund Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams is published. In the text, Freud outlines his theory of dream analysis, crucial to the study of the unconscious, and introduces key concepts in psychoanalysis, such as the Ego. The Paris International Exhibition, attended by more than 50 million people and including over 76,000 exhibitors, marks the heyday of Art Nouveau.
InternationalIn China the Boxer rebellion takes place. The Boxers were anti-imperialist and against foreign influence in trade, religion, politics and technology in the final years of the Manchu rule. The Boxers invade Beijing, killing 230 foreigners and Chinese Christians. The rebellion is suppressed by a multinational coalition of 20,000 troops, with China being forced to pay large war reparations, contributing to growing nationalist resentment against the Qing dynasty.
See this portrait
On display in Room 28 at the National Portrait Gallery