William Henry Davies
1 portrait matching 'NPG3149'
William Henry Davies
by Augustus John
11 1/2 in. x 9 in. (292 mm x 229 mm)
Artistback to top
- Augustus Edwin John (1878-1961), Painter. Artist associated with 33 portraits, Sitter in 106 portraits.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Clerk, Honor, The Sitwells, 1994 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 14 October - 22 January 1995), p. 73 Read entry
By the time the Sitwells met the Welsh-born writer W. H. Davies (1871-1940), shortly before the First World War, his reputation was already established with the publication of The Autobiography of a Super Tramp (1908). ‘He seemed only to make new friends, never new enemies’, Osbert wrote of him in Noble Essences, recalling the affection in which he was held among the artistic and literary circles of the time. He was a frequent and often unexpected visitor of Edith's and Helen’s at Pembridge Mansions and a regular at Swan Walk and Carlyle Square. After his marriage in 1925 he lived in Gloucestershire, a neighbour of Violet Gordon Woodhouse. Sickert, who was introduced to Davies by Osbert, said of him: ‘I never find anyone who understands a single thing I'm aiming at, and then you bring along an old tramp with a wooden leg, and he at once understands everything I've ever attempted.’1 After Davies's death Osbert wrote an appreciation of him for Life and Letters To-day and an
introduction to his Collected Poems in 1943. Two years before Augustus John's drawing Davies sat to Jacob Epstein for a sculpture, a cast of which is also in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery.
1 Osbert Sitwell, >Noble Essences, 1950, p 232.
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 167
Events of 1918back to top
Current affairsDespite the suspension of the Suffrage movement during the war, the Government finally agrees to grant women the right to vote as recognition of their vital role in the war effort. However, The Representation of the People Act only extended the franchise to female householders and university graduates over 30. Equal rights to men were not granted until 1928.
Art and scienceWar Poet, Wilfred Owen, is killed in action just a week before the end of the war. His poems, including Dulce et Decorum Est and Anthem for Doomed Youth, tell of the horror of war in the trenches and the tragic loss of a generation of young men who enthusiastically signed up to fight in a war that became seen as futile rather than glorious.
InternationalBritish representative, Admiral Rosslyn Wemyss, signs the Armistice calling a ceasefire on the 11th November 1918 and ending the war. Germany and Austria loose their empires and become republics. Around the same time a global flu pandemic brakes out - known in England as Spanish Flu - killing 50-100 million people within a year compared to 15 million fatalities from the four years of war.
Listen to a series of podcasts exploring the lives of pioneering women, past and present.
William Eggleston was closely associated with the alternative music scene in Memphis. Revisit our 2016 exhibition and listen to a special playlist.
Links to audio and transcripts of interviews with artists, sitters and historic recordings.
Tell us more
Framed & unframed prints
Choose your favourite portrait from our Collection as a framed or unframed print for your home.