HARDY, THOMAS (1840-1928, poet and novelist, O.M.)
PORTRAIT BY REGINALD GRENVILLE EVES R.A., R.P. (1876-1941), oil on canvas, half-length, hands to lapels, in his library, signed and dated 1923 by Eves, 23¾ x 19¾ in (60.3 x 50.2 cm).
EXHIBITED: Royal Academy, 1924; British Library Thomas Hardy Exhibition 1990 and reproduced on the front cover of the catalogue Thomas Hardy, 1840-1928, by Elizabeth James, 1990; British Library Millennium Exhibition Chapter & Verse: 1000 years of English Literature, 2000; reproduced (between pages 48-49) in The Genius of Thomas Hardy, 1976, edited Margaret Drabble, but wrongly described there as being the one in the National Portrait Gallery.
This 1923 portrait, painted from life, was shown in the Royal Academy in 1924. It was painted at the same time as the one by Eves in the National Portrait Gallery. Hardy records in his diary that he began his sittings with Eves in August 1923.
'Eves is among the few contemporary artists who have a genius for portrait work.' (Adrian Bury, The Art of Reginald Eves R.A., 1940). He had 'a remarkable gift for catching and fixing a characteristic expression. He developed a trademark style in which loosely worked backgrounds and unfinished edges give the impression of a spontaneous sketch.' (James Laver, revised by Ben Whitworth, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004). Hugh Walpole considered Eves's portraits as 'masterpieces of sympathy and understanding.' See under Patmore in this catalogue.