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Thomas Hardy

8 of 12 portraits on display in Room 28: wallcase at the National Portrait Gallery

Thomas Hardy

by William Strang
oil on panel, 1893
17 in. x 15 in. (432 mm x 381 mm)
Bequeathed by the sitter's widow, Florence Emily Hardy (née Dugdale), 1938
Primary Collection
NPG 2929

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Reeded Whistler cushion frames of this type w…

Sitterback to top

  • Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), Novelist and poet. Sitter in 60 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • William Strang (1859-1921), Painter and etcher. Artist associated with 65 portraits, Sitter in 11 portraits.

This portraitback to top

The Scottish etcher William Strang studied at the Slade under Alphonse Legros in the late 1870s and only took up painting seriously in the 1890s when he came under the influence of Whistler. This small early sketch of Thomas Hardy, one of the last great novelists of the nineteenth century, was bequeathed to the Gallery by Hardy's widow in 1938. William Rothenstein described Hardy as having 'a small dark bilberry eye which he cocked at you unexpectedly. He was so quiet and unassuming, he somehow put me in mind of a dew-pond on the Downs.' This portrait is framed in small-scale reeded 'Whistler' cushion frame of a type still being used by Whistler in the 1890s.

Linked publicationsback to top

Events of 1893back to top

Current affairs

Keir Hardie is among the group who formalise the Independent Labour Party, and is elected chairman and party leader at the opening conference. Gladstone continues with his campaign for home rule in Ireland, introducing the Second Home Rule Bill, which is passed by the Commons but vetoed by the Lords.

Art and science

Art Nouveau becomes a fully established movement in European art and design, after emerging in different countries and across different disciplines at the start of the decade. Key figures include the illustrator Aubrey Beardsley, architects Victor Horta and Paul Hankar, and the designer Alphonse Mucha. Art Nouveau is characterised by the 'whiplash' line, a decorative line which represents graphically the desire to break free from traditional aesthetic constraints.


Gandhi's ejection from a South African train carriage on account of his race is the catalyst for his non-violent activism in leading the struggle for Indian independence from British rule. New Zealand becomes the first self-governing country to grant women the vote. The Chicago World's Fair is visited by more than 200 million people, with Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse introducing electrical power to illuminate the fair.

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