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Sam Taylor-Johnson (Sam Taylor-Wood) ('Self-portrait in Single-breasted Suit with Hare')

Sam Taylor-Johnson (Sam Taylor-Wood) ('Self-portrait in Single-breasted Suit with Hare'), by Sam Taylor-Johnson (Sam Taylor-Wood), 2014, based on a work of 2001 - NPG P959 - © Sam Taylor-Wood

© Sam Taylor-Wood

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Sam Taylor-Johnson (Sam Taylor-Wood) ('Self-portrait in Single-breasted Suit with Hare')

by Sam Taylor-Johnson (Sam Taylor-Wood)
C-type colour print, 2014, based on a work of 2001
59 7/8 in. x 41 1/8 in. (1521 mm x 1046 mm)
Purchased with help from the artist and the Art Fund, 2002
Primary Collection
NPG P959

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

This portraitback to top

This defiant self-portrait was made following the artist’s own battle with cancer. The stuffed hare is both a traditional symbol of lust and passion and a reference to the loss of hair associated with chemotherapy.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Howgate, Sarah; Nairne, Sandy, A Guide to Contemporary Portraits, 2009, p. 22 Read entry

    Sam Taylor-Wood uses photography, film, video installation and sound to explore human relationships and emotions, her acted scenarios drawing on various sources from Renaissance and Baroque painting to Hollywood cinema. This challenging and powerful self-portrait documents a significant moment in Taylor Wood’s life and career and was made following her treatment for breast cancer. In her left hand she holds the contemporary artist’s tool, the cable release of her Mamiya RZ67 camera; in her right hand a stuffed hare, a traditional symbol used in seventeenth-century Dutch painting to represent lust and passion and also an ironic reference to the loss of hair associated with chemotherapy treatment.

  • Ribeiro, Aileen; Blackman, Cally, A Portrait of Fashion: Six Centuries of Dress at the National Portrait Gallery, 2015, p. 266
  • Rideal, Liz, Insights: Self-portraits, 2005, p. 37 Read entry

    Sam Taylor-Wood is sometimes known for her links with the glitterati and the international party scene. Yet her art aspires to a more serious tone. This image was created following her treatment for breast cancer. In an interview, she described the symbolism in her choice of props and attire: ‘With chemotherapy, the first thing you think is that you are going to lose your hair. The hare symbolises lust and passion, so here I am with a head of hair, in a single-breasted suit, holding on to lust and passion.’

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Events of 2001back to top

Current affairs

Labour wins a second landslide general election victory campaigning on improvements to public services based on private finance projects. The Conservative party proved itself to be out-of-touch by ignoring public services and campaigning on the issue of Britain's membership of the EU. The day after the election William Hague resigned as leader of the Conservative Party.

Art and science

The Eden Project opens in Cornwall. The eco-centre, conceived by Tim Smit, replicates tropical and temporal climates and houses plants from all over the world in two domed biomes. The project is both a large-scale scientific experiment to study the environmental changes in different biomes over time, and a visitor attraction teaching the public about the natural environment.

International

On 11th September (9/11) America comes under foreign attack for the first time since Pearl Harbour when Islamic Fundamentalist terrorists hijack four planes, flying two into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre, and one into the Pentagon; the forth plane crashed in a field.
George Bush launches his 'War on Terror' by invading Afghanistan to overthrown the Taliban and capture Osama bin Laden, leader of al-Qaeda.

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