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

Gertrude Hermes

© Simon Hughes-Stanton & Judith Russell

1 Like voting
is closed

Thanks for Liking

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

Make a donation Close
  • Use this image
  • ShareShare this

Gertrude Hermes

by Gertrude Hermes
wood engraving, 1949
8 in. x 6 in. (203 mm x 152 mm) plate size
Given by Lloyd Tyrell-Kenyon, 5th Baron Kenyon, 1988
Primary Collection
NPG 6002

Sitterback to top

  • Gertrude Hermes (1901-1983), Artist. Sitter in 1 portrait, Artist of 5 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • Gertrude Hermes (1901-1983), Artist. Artist of 5 portraits, Sitter in 1 portrait.

This portraitback to top

Sculptor, printmaker and painter; member of the London Group (from 1935); taught extensively in London art schools; worked with her husband, Blair Hughes-Stanton on wood engravings for 'The Pilgrim's Progress' (Cresset Press, 1926). In 1964, along with Anne Redpath and Dame Laura Knight, Hermes was invited to dinner at the Assembly Rooms by the Royal Academy thus breaking a masculine tradition of 196 years.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Rideal, Liz, Mirror Mirror: Self-portraits by Women Artists, 2001 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 12 September 2001 to 20 January 2002), p. 87 Read entry

    Born in Kent, Gertrude Hermes studied first at Beckenham School of Art from 1919 to 1921 and then at Leon Underwood's School of Painting and Sculpture between 1922 and 1926, gaining the Prix de Rome in 1925. The following year she married the artist and printmaker Blair Hughes-Stanton (1902-81), though they were divorced in 1932. She taught at the Royal Academy Schools, at St Martin's School of Art and at the Central School of Art. She became an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1963 and in 1964, together with Anne Redpath (1895-1965) and Dame Laura Knight, was invited to an Academy banquet, thus breaking a masculine tradition of 196 years. This was as a result of her letter of protest: 'No, I am not a feminist, nor have I ever felt the need to fight for rights, or anything like that. Just an artist and as such I cannot accept sex discrimination in the world of Art.' In 1971 she was elected to the Royal Academy.

    Hermes designed the 9100mm (22’ 10”) sculptured glass window for the British Pavilion at the Paris Exposition Internationale of 1937, and was selected to represent Britain in the 1940 Venice Biennale. This was cancelled because of the outbreak of World War II, which Hermes spent in New York and Montreal with her two children. During this period she undertook war work as a draughtswoman for shipyards and aircraft factories. She exhibited widely, with the English Wood Engraving Society from 1925 to 1931, with the London Group from 1934, and at the Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne, in 1949. She was given a retrospective at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1967 and at the Royal Academy in 1981. Her work can be seen in several public collections including the Tate, the British Museum, the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, and the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester.

    Hermes is renowned for the narrative, symbolic compositions she created in black-and-white print; she called herself a 'book decorator', but she also made sculptures in wood and bronze, receiving a medal from the Society of Portrait Sculpture in 1967. Hermes, like Dame Ethel Walker was awarded the Order of the British Empire (1982). Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957) and Henri Gaudier-Brzeska (1891-1915) influenced her wood sculptures and one can detect their presence in this print which, with its fluid lines and play on profile/full-face, is an elegant yet simple portrait of the artist with a distinctly three-dimensional feel. Bryan Robertson, an avant-garde and respected curator who was Director of the Whitechapel Art Gallery from 1952 to 1968, remarked that Hermes' work demonstrated 'a continual and agreeable tension between sobriety and verve, classical order and sensual impulse'. (This and previous quote taken from K. Deepwell, 'Gertrude Hermes' in Dictionary of Women Artists, Vol. I, 1997.)

  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 299

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Events of 1949back to top

Current affairs

Following the Republic of Ireland Act in 1948, the Irish Free State becomes the Republic of Ireland and leaves the Commonwealth. The functions previously given to the King were handed to the President of Ireland.
The Second Parliament Act diminishes the power of the House of Lords, reducing their authority to delay bills from two years to one.

Art and science

George Orwell publishes his dystopian novel, 1984. The book imagines a future where totalitarian governments rule; their power based on continual war abroad, and overwhelming propaganda and surveillance at home. With 'Big Brother' keeping a constant check on the citizens' actions and thoughts, the individual loses the faculties of free will and independent thought.

International

The People's Republic of China is created after the Communist Party wins the Civil War. China became a communist country under Mao Zedong.
Cold War tensions increase as Germany is split into the democratic Federal Republic of Germany in the west (a union of the post-war British, French and American sectors), and the communist German Democratic Republic, in the east.

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.