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Bertrand Russell

1 of 119 portraits of Bertrand Russell

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Bertrand Russell

by Roger Fry
oil on canvas, circa 1923
21 1/4 in. x 17 3/4 in. (540 mm x 451 mm)
Purchased, 1970
Primary Collection
NPG 4832

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Roger Fry (1866-1934), Critic and painter. Artist of 5 portraits, Sitter in 18 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Subdued in palette and the handling of paint, Fry's portrait is notable for its clarity, directness and understatement. These qualities seem appropriate for a likeness of a philosopher who admired the 'supreme beauty' of mathematics - 'cold and austere'.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Audio Guide
  • Saumarez Smith, Charles, The National Portrait Gallery: An Illustrated Guide, 2000, p. 188
  • Saumarez Smith, Charles, The National Portrait Gallery, 1997, p. 188 Read entry

    It is appropriate that Bertrand Russell should be represented by a portrait by Roger Fry. Both were dry, rather cerebral intellectuals, but both had more than a touch of worldliness, alongside their high moral principles, their pacifism and socialism. Both were members of the 'Apostles', a secret academic society, when they were undergraduates at Cambridge. Both were to be lovers of the well-known socialiate Ottoline Morrell, who had such an appetite for the company of intellectuals at Garsington before the First World War. Moreover, Fry was a great admirer of Russell's work, writing in 1920 that 'He is one of the men of genius of our time.' So the portrait forms a nice record of the milieu that surrounded the Bloomsbury group: high-minded and preoccupied with the world of ideas.

  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 539
  • Spalding, Frances, The Bloomsbury Group, 2013, p. 112
  • Spalding, Frances, Insights: The Bloomsbury Group, 2005, p. 100

Subjects & Themesback to top

Events of 1923back to top

Current affairs

Stanley Baldwin begins the first of three terms of government as Conservative Prime Minister following the resignation of Andrew Bonar Law.

Art and science

Bolton Wanderers beat West Ham United in the first FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium. The Cup Final was held at Wembley every year except during the war until 2000.


Hitler attempts to take power in Germany with the Munich Beer Hall Putsch. On the 8th November Hitler and the SA stormed a meeting of the ruling 'triumvirs' forcing them to support a march on Berlin. The coup, however, failed and Hitler was arrested and sentences to five years in prison.

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