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James Havard Thomas

James Havard Thomas, by James Kerr-Lawson, circa 1910 -NPG 2115 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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James Havard Thomas

by James Kerr-Lawson
Crayon and/or pencil on paper, circa 1910
13 in. x 10 in. (330 mm x 254 mm)
NPG 2115

This portraitback to top

James Kerr-Lawson was a Canadian artist who studied at the Académie Julian in Paris between 1881 and 1884, the same years that James Havard Thomas was a student at the École des Beaux-Arts. On moving to London in 1900 Kerr-Lawson took a studio in Glebe Place, Chelsea; this street was also Thomas’s address when he died in 1921. As well as being neighbours both men belonged to the International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers and to the Chelsea Arts Club. [1]

Kerr-Lawson made two known drawings of Thomas. One is a quick sketch of the sculptor asleep, taken in Taormina (Tate, N04187) during Kerr-Lawson’s visit to Sicily in 1910. The other, NPG 2115, is undated but belongs to a group of large tonal heads he made around 1910, some of them preparatory to lithographs. [2]

His portrait drawings were brought to the attention of the National Portrait Gallery by Lord Rothschild, at the time of the Beaux Arts Gallery’s Thomas retrospective in 1926. The NPG Trustees chose two drawings from a selection sent for inspection by the artist. The usual Ten-Year Rule had to be suspended to allow the purchase of the drawings of Thomas and William De Morgan at £25 each. [3]

The brooding expression in Thomas’s portraits by Kerr-Lawson and William Rothenstein (see ‘All known portraits, By other artists, 1920’) is a reminder of his troubled dealings with the Royal Academy and other art establishment bodies. [4]

James Havard Thomas’s own work is represented by two portraits at the NPG: a plaster cast of an early work, the statuette of Samuel Morley, c.1885 (NPG 1303, acquired 1901); and a preparatory drawing of 1913 (NPG 2448, acquired in 1930) for the portrait medallion of Rupert Brooke (1918; coll. Rugby School).

The frame was repaired and gilded by F. Draper after acquisition in 1926; the drawing is presently unframed (2007).

Carol Blackett-Ord

Footnotesback to top

1) Lamb 1983, pp.21, 39. The Beaux Arts Gallery (Bruton Place, London W1) mounted three one-man shows devoted to Kerr-Lawson (1926, 1930, 1942) and one to Thomas (1936).
2) See Lamb 1983, p.39. There is no apparent connexion between the Taormina drawing and NPG 2115.
3) Kerr-Lawson presented his other drawing of Thomas as a gift to the Tate G., also in 1926.
4) See Pearson 2004; and Crane 1907, p.288.

Physical descriptionback to top

Head-and-shoulders, eyes downcast to left, body facing right.

Provenanceback to top

The artist; by whom sold to the Gallery, 1926.

Exhibitionsback to top

James Kerr-Lawson: A Canadian Abroad, Art Gallery of Windsor, Ontario, 1983 (41).

Reproductionsback to top

Lamb 1983, p.39.

View all known portraits for James Havard Thomas


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