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.

Advanced Collection search

First Previous 5 OF 7 NextLast

James Joyce

5 of 7 portraits of James Joyce

© National Portrait Gallery, London

 Like voting
is closed

Thanks for Liking

Please Like other favourites!
If they inspire you please support our work.

Buy a print Make a donation Close
  • Buy a print
  • Use this image
  • ShareShare this

James Joyce

by Jacques-Emile Blanche
oil on canvas, 1935
49 1/4 in. x 34 1/2 in. (1251 mm x 876 mm)
Purchased, 1953
Primary Collection
NPG 3883

On display in Room 31 at the National Portrait Gallery

Sitterback to top

  • James Joyce (1882-1941), Novelist, poet and playwright. Sitter in 7 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • Jacques-Emile Blanche (1861-1942), Painter and writer. Artist associated with 8 portraits, Sitter in 3 portraits.

This portraitback to top

This portrait was painted in Paris. Blanche recorded in his autobiography that Joyce, who suffered from eye problems, was sensitive about the bulging left-hand lens of his spectacles.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Smartify image discovery app
  • 100 Writers, p. 90
  • Jeffares, A. Norman, Character Sketches: The Irish Literary Movement, 1998, p. 4
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 343
  • Various contributors, National Portrait Gallery: A Portrait of Britain, 2014, p. 207 Read entry

    This portrait by Jacques-Emile Blanche (1861–1942) of James Joyce, one of the great modernist novelists of the twentieth century, was painted during a period of crisis in the sitter’s life. By then, Joyce was established as a writer of great originality, his reputation founded on his first novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) and its successor Ulysses (1922). The latter book courted controversy and was banned in the United States until 1933, and in Britain until 1934. He had commenced his complex novel Finnegan’s Wake (1939), a project that preoccupied him for seventeen years. But from the 1930s, Joyce’s health was precarious. In addition to attacks of colitis, the illness that would eventually kill him, he was beset with problems affecting his eyesight and worked with a magnifying glass. He was also gravely concerned about the mental state of his daughter, Lucia, who had been diagnosed with hebremia, a form of schizophrenia.

    In 1935, when this portrait was painted, Lucia’s increasingly violent behaviour led Joyce to recognise that she was in ‘the abyss of insanity’. With his left eye afflicted, and self-conscious about his spectacles, Joyce was depicted with his face turned to the side.

Placesback to top

Events of 1935back to top

Current affairs

Stanley Baldwin starts his third term as Prime Minister after Ramsay Macdonald resigns due to ill health. Coincidentally, Baldwin's first term in office also came about when the Prime Minister of the time, Bonar Law, stepped down due to illness in 1923.

Art and science

Robert Watson-Watt demonstrates Radar, showing how an aircraft can be tracked by detecting radio waves reflected off it. During the war, Watson-Watt established a network of machines and operators that helped detect the approach of enemy aircraft in the Battle of Britain.
Penguin publishes its first paperback books, making reading more portable and affordable to a wider audience.

International

Italy invades Abyssinia. The invasion of the country now known as Ethiopia was part of Mussolini's plan to create an Italian Empire. It was also an attempt to avenge Abyssinia's victory over the Italian army at Adowa in 1896.
Germany introduces conscription, breaking the disarmament clause of the Treaty of Versailles.

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.