The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

King George V

1 portrait on display in Room 31 at the National Portrait Gallery

© National Portrait Gallery, London

  • Buy a print
  • Use this image
  • ShareShare this

King George V

by Sir Oswald Birley
oil on canvas, circa 1933
23 1/4 in. x 16 7/8 in. (591 mm x 429 mm)
Purchased, 1957
Primary Collection
NPG 4013

On display in Room 31 at the National Portrait Gallery

Images

Like some other 20th-century artists, Oswald…

Sitterback to top

  • King George V (1865-1936), Reigned 1910-36. Sitter in 478 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • Sir Oswald Birley (1880-1952), Painter. Artist associated with 15 portraits, Sitter in 1 portrait.

This portraitback to top

Like a number of twentieth-century artists, Birley had a fondness for carved frames and would have a canvas made to fit a particular antique frame. His portrait of George V was made to fit the fine Italian 'cassetta' frame of a type used in Bologna and elsewhere in the Emilia in the first half of the seventeenth century.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Smartify image discovery app
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 242
  • 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. 23, 185 Read entry

    Carved and gilt poplar, lap jointed, the punched frieze water gilt and burnished over a red bole, the sight and top edge mitred and planted. 5 inches wide.

    This is a case of putting the frame before the picture. Like some other twentieth-century artists, Birley had a fondness for carved frames and would have a canvas made to fit a particular antique frame.1 Hence the non-standard measurements of this portrait. The frame is a very fine Italian cassetta frame of a type used in Bologna and elsewhere in Emilia in the first half of the seventeenth century. 'The hallmark ... of Emilian cassetta frames', Paul Mitchell has written, 'is the use of granito (punchwork) to create subtle arabesques, running flowers, blossom and leaves ... Also Emilian in character is the preference for foliate rather than architectural ornament'.2 In the case of this frame, the punchwork frieze consists of an arabesque of running leaves set between a sight edge and top edge of overlapping leaves reversing at a central motif.

    1 Information from Sir Oswald's son, Mark Birley, 14 February 1995, who also thinks that Bourlet may have made some frames for his father.

    2 Paul Mitchell, 'Italian Picture Frames 1500-1825: A Brief Survey', Furniture History, vol.XX, 1984, p 22.

Events of 1933back to top

Current affairs

Sir Norman Angell is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Angell was recognised for his book, Europe's Optical Illusion (or The Great Illusion) first published in 1910 and updated in 1933, which argued that war between modern powers was futile as neither the looser or victor would gain economically from it.

Art and science

British Art embraces abstraction with the establishment of 'Unit 1', the first group of British Artists dedicated to producing abstract art. The critic Herbert Read formed the group by bringing together the artists Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Paul Nash and the architect, Wells Coates.
The Duveen Wing extension at the National Portrait Gallery is opened by King George V.

International

The Nazi party comes to power in Germany as part of a coalition government with Hitler as Chancellor. Over the next year, the party consolidated its position through the Enabling Act (allowing them to pass legislation without the support of the coalition), by banning and purging opposition, and by making Hitler Führer in 1934: granting him the combined powers of Chancellor and President.

Tell us more back to top

Can you tell us more about this portrait? Spotted an error, information that is missing (a sitter’s life dates, occupation or family relationships, or a date of portrait for example) or do you know anything that we don't know? If you have information to share please complete the form below.

If you require information from us, please use our Archive enquiry service. You can buy a print of most illustrated portraits. Select the portrait of interest to you, then look out for a Buy a Print button. Prices start at £6 for unframed prints, £25 for framed prints. If you wish to license this image, please use our Rights and Images service.

Please note that we cannot provide valuations.

We digitise over 8,000 portraits a year and we cannot guarantee being able to digitise images that are not already scheduled.

What can you tell us?close

There are occasions when we are unsure of the identity of a sitter or artist, their life dates, occupation or have not recorded their family relationships. Sometimes we have not recorded the date of a portrait. Do you have specialist knowledge or a particular interest about any aspect of the portrait or sitter or artist that you can share with us? We would welcome any information that adds to and enhances our information and understanding about a particular portrait, sitter or artist.

Citationclose

How do you know this? Please could you let us know your source of information.

* Permission to publish (Privacy information)
Privacy Informationclose

The National Portrait Gallery will NOT use your information to contact you or store for any other purpose than to investigate or display your contribution. By ticking permission to publish you are indicating your agreement for your contribution to be shown on this collection item page. Please note your email address will not be displayed on the page nor will it be used for any marketing material or promotion of any kind.

Please ensure your comments are relevant and appropriate. Your contributions must be polite and with no intention of causing trouble. All contributions are moderated.

Your Emailclose

Contributions are moderated. We'll need your email address so that we can follow up on the information provided and contact you to let you know when your contribution has been published.