Fry was not a vain man yet at various moments in his life he turned his attention upon himself, producing a series of introspective self-portraits.

As in all of these, in this work there is a level gaze, a careful, critical self appraisal in which the importance of looking seems to outweigh the expression of his personality. This is the only portrait in which he is shown wearing a hat, and the light catching the edge of the brim creates a horizontal that balances the verticality of the face. Cezanne's example may have led Fry to use the background door panels as a challenge to the sense of recession set up by the line of the shoulders and the three-quarter view of the face. There is also a visual pun in the use of the pearl tie-pin to hold both tie and composition in position.

Provenance

Possibly purchased from the artist by Geoffrey Agnew; by descent to Julian Agnew.


The Courtauld Gallery

Somerset House, Strand, London, Greater London, WC2R 0RN
020 7848 2526
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Daily, 10am – 6pm (last admission 5.30pm)

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