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Trade Unionists (Joe Gormley; Thomas Jackson; Sidney Weighell)

10 of 14 portraits by Hans Schwarz

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Trade Unionists (Joe Gormley; Thomas Jackson; Sidney Weighell)

by Hans Schwarz
oil on board, 1984
72 in. x 72 in. (1830 mm x 1830 mm)
Commissioned, 1984
Primary Collection
NPG 5749

On display in Room 32 at the National Portrait Gallery

Sittersback to top

Artistback to top

  • Hans Schwarz (1922-2003), Painter; sculptor; illustrator; author. Artist of 14 portraits, Sitter in 3 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Schwarz sketched the three union leaders individually in various locations before uniting them in the compositional setting of Trafalgar Square, a place where, he said, they might have met and also somewhere near, but not quite in, the corridors of power. The figure in the background facing the viewer between Joe Gormley and Tom Jackson is a self-portrait of the artist.

The frame was made and presented by British Rail Engineering Ltd, Derby, to the artist's design.

Related worksback to top

  • NPG 5793(1): Joe Gormley (study)
  • NPG 5793(2): Sidney Weighell (study)
  • NPG 5793(3): Sir Thomas Jackson (study)
  • NPG 5793(4): Trade Unionists (sketch) (Joe Gormley; Sidney Weighell; Thomas Jackson) (sketch)
  • NPG 5793(5): Trade Unionists (sketch) (Joe Gormley; Thomas Jackson; Sidney Weighell) (sketch)
  • NPG 5793(6): Trade Unionists (sketch) (Joe Gormley; Thomas Jackson; Sidney Weighell) (sketch)
  • NPG 5793(7): Trade Unionists (sketch) (Joe Gormley; Thomas Jackson; Sidney Weighell) (sketch)
  • NPG D196: Unveiling of NPG 5749 Trade Unionists (Joe Gormley; Sidney Weighell; Harold Wilson; Hans Schwarz) (includes the portrait)

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Cooper, John, Visitor's Guide, 2000, p. 103
  • John Cooper, National Portrait Gallery Visitor's Guide, 2006, p. 103
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 726
  • 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. 189 Read entry

    Painted hardwood, mitred and pinned, brass studs. 4 1⁄ 2 inches wide.

    Hans Schwarz’s portrait of three former trade union leaders, Lord Gormley of the National Union of Mineworkers, Sid Weighell of the National Union of Railwaymen and Tom Jackson of the Post Office Workers, was commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery in 1984. The painted wood and metal frame, designed by the artist, was made by the then Derby Carriage Works of British Rail Engineering Ltd. The artist thought it a good idea to involve a trade union in the work, and with Sid Weighell's support approached the railway coach builders at Derby where he met with an enthusiastic response. 'We've got cabinet makers, coach painters, metal workers, but with modern methods - plastics, spray paint, transfer lettering - they are sadly underused', Hans Schwarz recalls being told.1 Schwarz chose the colours of the frame to suit the painting, and the brass studs to give life and sparkle, and to hint at the industrial theme, though the final result is not quite as bright and handmade in appearance as he had hoped.

    1 Letter to the author, 19 July 1996.

Placesback to top

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Events of 1984back to top

Current affairs

The Provisional IRA bomb the Grand Hotel in Brighton where various politicians, including the Prime Minister, where staying for the annual Conservative Party conference. The bomb killed five people including a conservative MP, but no members of the cabinet. Thatcher began the next session of the conference the following morning at 9.30 as planned saying: 'all attempts to destroy democracy by terrorism will fail.'

Art and science

Dr Alec Jeffreys discovers that patterns in an individual's DNA can be identified and that each person has a unique 'genetic fingerprint'. The technique was soon utilised by forensic scientists to help in criminal investigations, and in order to identify human remains, for paternity testing, and to match organ donors.
Ted Hughes is appointed poet Laureate.

International

Ethiopia suffers severe drought and famine. The Ethiopian government responded by uprooting large numbers of peasants in the worst affected areas and by setting up new villages for the displaced people. However, the planned villages were frequently poorly equipped and many people chose to flee rather than acquiesce with government plans leading to further decline in food production and bringing the total death toll to over 1 million.

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