George Du Maurier
- Extended catalogue entry
George Du Maurier
by Sir Leslie Ward
Watercolour with traces of pencil, 1895-1896
12 3/4 in. x 7 3/4 in. (324 mm x 197 mm)
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Inscriptionback to top
Signed in pencil below: ‘Spy’.
This portraitback to top
Sir Leslie Ward wrote in his memoirs, Forty Years of Spy, ‘du Maurier […] was not only a great artist but a man of singularly sweet and generous disposition’. Like many others, Ward was under the spell of the famous charm.
For this Vanity Fair cartoon Ward produced a limpid portrait washed in greys and browns, showing Du Maurier as a dapper elderly gentleman absorbed in his work, with no hint of satire. It was published as a chromolithograph in Vanity Fair on 23 January 1896, as ‘Men of the Day no.641’, and captioned ‘Trilby’ in tribute to the great success of Du Maurier’s novel published in 1894.
The adjustable table also appears in a photograph by Fradelle & Young of Du Maurier at New Grove House wearing very similar clothes (see ‘All known portraits, Photographs, 1890s’). However, Ward’s drawing was made from sittings, not a photograph, as he recalled: ‘The sketch of George du Maurier I made for him while he was busily engaged at his drawing-table illustrating Trilby.’  Nine months later his sitter was dead.
See NPG collection 2566–2606, 2698–2746, 2964–3012, 3265–3300, 4605–4611, 4627–4636, 4707(1–30), 4711–4758
Footnotesback to top
Physical descriptionback to top
Whole-length, seated at drawing table, head to left, legs crossed, left hand in trouser pocket.
Conservationback to top
Provenanceback to top
Purchased from Maggs Bros, Mar. 1934.
Reproductionsback to top
Copies of the print after NPG 2711
Chromolithograph by Vincent Brooks, Day & Son, Vanity Fair, 23 January 1896; copies colls NPG Archive; Getty Images 3296233, 3062563 and 50700566; and MEPL, London, 10072058.
Help us conserve a portrait of a female adventurer, poet and medical pioneer