SELF PORTRAIT, c.1929
Oil on canvas. 29¾ x 20in. (76.5 x 51cm)
Signed with a monogram, lower right.
Ruth Borchard collection, purchased by her from the artist in 1965.
Newcastle upon Tyne, University of Northumbria Art Gallery, 2005.
For a lengthy description of this work see Vann, 2004, pp122-124.
In addition to the description by Vann, the following points are noteworthy.
The numerals 64 are painted in the lower left corner. The significance of this is unclear, but Nativity (1929) also has this number. It probably relates to a Slade reference system.
The painting is signed with a monogram formed from the superimposed initials IMC. This is the only known example of this form of monogram and raises the question of whether it is contemporaneous with the painting or was added later, perhaps at the point of sale.
The paint is applied very thinly in places, allowing a pencil grid to show through. Preparatory sketches were probably made, although none are known.
The location appears to be a rocky foreshore, with running water in the background. This is the first example of the conjunction of rock and water, land and sea, which became an important life-long theme in her work.
The painting contains the Golden Section, as follows: the nose and the most forward part of the left shoe fall on the Golden Section of the horizontal dimension of the canvas; the rock with a vertical fissure, closest to the sitter’s right elbow, meets the edge of the canvas at the Golden Section of the horizontal dimension. That point is also the Golden section of the vertical dimension.
Vann, Philip. Face to Face. British self portraits in the 20th century. Sansom & Co. Ltd, Bristol, 2004.