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Francis Henry Crittall

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Francis Henry Crittall

by Augustus John
oil on canvas, 1919
30 in. x 24 3/4 in. (762 mm x 630 mm)
Given by Crittall family, 1994
Primary Collection
NPG 6240


Augustus John's portrait of the metal window…

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Augustus Edwin John (1878-1961), Painter. Artist associated with 33 portraits, Sitter in 106 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Commissioned by the East Anglian Munitions Committee, this is an example of the society portrait from which John, epitome of the bohemian artist and the most famous painter of his day, made a living after the war.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 154
  • 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. 111, 184 Read entry

    Ebonised pine, reverse section, with five applied ripple mouldings, the inner two of mahogany with gilding on the innermost, the outer three of ebony, mitred with a lap jointed back frame except at bottom left and top right where mitred and pinned, apparently where the original lap joint has been cut through, suggesting that the frame, although original to the picture, may have been cut down. 5 3⁄ 4 inches wide.

    Augustus John's portrait of the metal window frame manufacturer, Francis Crittall, is one of a number of the painter's large portraits of the late 1910s and early 1920s which were framed in a modern black ripple moulding of Dutch or German seventeenth-century inspiration, a type also used by some of John's contemporaries. Very similar frames are found on John's portraits of Thomas Hardy (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge) and Madame Suggia (Tate Gallery), both of 1923, William Nicholson's Miss Jekyll's Gardening Boots of 1920 (Tate Gallery), and William Orpen's The Studio of c.1911 (Leeds City Art Gallery).1 A gilt compo variant of lesser quality was used for John's portrait of Sir Herbert Barker of 1916 (National Portrait Gallery).

    John, Nicholson and Orpen were all three Chenil artists at one time or another, using the Chenil Galleries, a picture gallery and artists' material supplier set up by Orpen's brother-in-law, Jack Knewstub, in the King's Road, Chelsea, on the site of some studios John once occupied.2 Both John and Orpen are known to have obtained white Whistler frames from Chenil and it is possible that these black ripple frames came from the same source.3

    1 The frames on the Nicholson and Orpen seem to be identical to that on John's portrait of Hardy, but for the slightly smaller scale of the sight edge mouldings of the Nicholson.

    2 For the Chenil Galleries, see Augustus John, Finishing Touches, 1964, p 137. As Charles Chenil & Co. Ltd, the business is recorded in Trade Directories from at least 1907 to 1928.

    3 Two of John's 1910 sketches in the Fitzwilliam Museum have Chenil's label: Woman with a Daffodil and Girl leaning on Stick.

Subjects & Themesback to top

Events of 1919back to top

Current affairs

Sir John William Alcock and Lieutenant Arthur Whitten Brown pilot the first successful non-stop transatlantic flight from Newfoundland to Ireland, flying 1980 miles in their modified Vickers Vimy bomber plane in just over 16 hours. Their achievement won them a £10,000 prize from the Daily Mail newspaper.

Art and science

John Maynard Keynes publishes The Economic Consequences of the Peace, an influential economic text that criticised the harsh economic treatment of Germany at the Treaty of Versailles and predicted the destabilising effects of the vindictive settlement.


The Paris Peace Conference negotiates the peace treaties between the victorious and defeated powers. The Conference culminated in a number of treaties including the Treaty of Versailles, which granted independence for the countries under Austrian and Russian rule and forced Germany to accept responsibility for the war and pay reparations. It also established the League of Nations.

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