Frederick Delius

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Frederick Delius

by Ernest Procter
oil on millboard, 1929
12 5/8 in. x 10 1/4 in. (321 mm x 262 mm)
Purchased, 1953
Primary Collection
NPG 3861


This polished simulated rosewood frame appear…

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Ernest Procter (1886-1935), Artist. Artist or producer of 40 portraits, Sitter in 1 portrait.

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  • Saumarez Smith, Charles, The National Portrait Gallery: An Illustrated Guide, 2000, p. 191
  • Saumarez Smith, Charles, The National Portrait Gallery, 1997, p. 191 Read entry

    Delius, who was blind as well as paralysed in the latter part of his life, is here depicted five years before his death with his nose in the air as if savouring a smell of the most intense deliciousness or remembering far-off music of his own composition. The picture was produced by Ernest Procter as a sketch for a larger work, which shows the composer in his wheelchair listening to a rehearsal for a performance of his choral work A Mass of Life, during the Delius Festival held at the Queen's Hall in west London in November 1929.

  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 172
  • Simon, Jacob, The Art of the Picture Frame: Artists, Patrons and the Framing of Portraits in Britain, 1997 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 8 November 1996 - 9 February 1997), p. 81, 185 Read entry

    White hardwood, grained and polished to resemble rosewood, mitred and pinned, bronzed sight edge. 3 inches wide.

    Ernest Proctor's study of Delius for his large picture of the blind composer at the Queen's Hall has a polished simulated rosewood frame which appears to be the original. The portrait was exhibited at the Leicester Galleries in 1929 and remained in the family of the purchaser, G. A. Balfour Gardiner, until acquired by the National Portrait Gallery with the frame in 1953. It is not clear who was responsible for framing the portrait, but polished wood frames of this sort had become increasingly popular since the relaxation of the Royal Academy's rule insisting on gilt frames in 1920.

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Current affairs

The first election held under universal suffrage is a victory for Labour. Ramsay Macdonald returned for his second term as Prime Minster, and appointed Margaret Grace Bondfield as the first woman Cabinet Minister.

Art and science

Two classic books about the First World War are published: All Quiet on the Western Front, by war veteran, Erich Maria Remarque, tells of the horrors of war and the returning German soldiers' feelings of detachment from civilian life; while Robert Grave's autobiography Goodbye to All That, aimed to describe the author's experiences of the war so that they 'need never be thought about again'.


The 24th October 1929 becomes known as Black Thursday when the US Stock Exchange Collapses and millions are lost. The event was the start of the Wall Street Crash, which in turn contributed towards the Great Depression: a major international recession that lasted through most of the 1930s.

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