by Clara Ewald
oil on canvas, 1911
21 1/2 in. x 29 in. (546 mm x 737 mm)
Given by the artist's son, Paul Peter Ewald, 1972
This portraitback to top
The young Rupert Brooke, handsome, well-bred and full of promise as a poet, sat to the German artist Clara Ewald when he was staying in Munich in spring 1911. He was not enjoying himself and missed Cambridge terribly; but fortunately he had an introduction to Ewald and made friends with her son Paul, who was studying physics at Munich University. According to Paul Ewald, 'He would come in for tea and often stay for supper. My impression was that he found it very difficult to adapt himself to Germany and that in his thoughts he lived more in Cambridge than in Munich. This he expresses himself in his letters. So, partly perhaps to cheer him up, my mother painted him'. Most of the people who had known Rupert Brooke reckoned that the result was not a very good likeness - indeed, a later version, which was presented to King's College, Cambridge, caused a great deal of controversy, not least because it was regarded by some of the dons as too effeminate. It has however become one of the images by which he is now well known, including the hat, which he borrowed for the occasion from the artist's son.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Audio Guide
- Crane, David; Judd, Alan, First World War Poets, 2014, p. 25
- Saumarez Smith, Charles, The National Portrait Gallery: An Illustrated Guide, 2000, p. 177
- Saumarez Smith, Charles, The National Portrait Gallery, 1997, p. 177
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 79
Subjects & Themesback to top
Events of 1911back to top
Current affairsAsquith's Liberal government introduces the Parliament Act to curb the powers of the House of Lords following the clash between the Commons and Lords over the 1909 People's Budget. The Act removed the Lords' power to veto bills, reduced the length of Parliament from seven to five years, and provided for the payment of MPs.
Art and scienceErnest Rutherford discovers the structure of the atom. The New Zealand born physicist working in Manchester showed with his Nuclear Model that electrons orbited a nucleus composed of protons and neutrons. The discovery paved the way for nuclear physics.
InternationalThe Polish Chemist, Marie Curie, becomes the first woman to win the Nobel Prize for her discovery in 1898 of the radioactive element, Radon.
The Mona Lisa is stolen from the Louvre. The masterpiece was missing for two years, during which time suspicion fell on avant-garde poet Guillaume Apollinaire and his friend Pablo Picasso, before Vincenzo Peruggia, an employee of the Louvre, was arrested in Florence.
See this portrait
On display in Room 30 at the National Portrait Gallery
- Portrait of the Day: Rupert Brooke
16 November, 12:30