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Key facts
Full title Self portrait
Artist Gwen John
Artist dates 1876 - 1939
Date made about 1900
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 61 × 37.8 cm
Acquisition credit On loan from the National Portrait Gallery: Given by the Art Fund to mark Sir Alec Martin's 40 years service to the fund, 1965
Inventory number L1296
Location Gallery B
Image copyright On loan from the National Portrait Gallery: Given by the Art Fund to mark Sir Alec Martin's 40 years service to the fund, 1965, © National Portrait Gallery, London
Collection Main Collection
Self portrait
Gwen John

John painted this self portrait shortly after her return from Paris, where she had studied at James Abbott McNeill Whistler’s Académie Carmen. It is composed in a narrow range of subdued tones, reflecting his use of colour.

John was only around 24 when she painted this. Unlike many self portraits where the artist is positioned from the side, appearing to glance out at the viewer, she poses herself directly facing the spectator. Poised and confident, and with hand on her hip, she looks resolute and determined.

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