Gwen John

1 portrait on display in Room 29 at the National Portrait Gallery

Gwen John, by Gwendolen Mary ('Gwen') John, circa 1900 - NPG 4439 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Gwen John

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
Primary Collection
NPG 4439

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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.

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