William Strang (1859 - 1921)

Self portrait, 154

SKU: 7270
Signed with initials, numbered 154

Height – 23.5cm
Width – 19cm


Laurence W. Hodson; Chinfineart; Private collection.

Literature: Llewellyn, Sacha, and Paul Liss. Portrait of an Artist. Liss Llewellyn, 2021, p.248.

This self-portrait by Strang is the original drawing for his etching of 1890, (hence the same composition in reverse).

The artist, aged 41, was mid career and already renowned  as an etcher by this point

The technique and composition owes much  to  Alphonse Legros (1837-1911), who had taught Strang earlier at the Slade and who subsequently became the assistant master in Legros’ etching class.

The National Portrait Gallery, self portrait, etching, 1890

In his younger years he was a noted serial self-portraitist. The etchings having a wide variety of poses, or setting, or are distinguished by the wearing of a specific hat. His unique lithographic self-portrait was probably prompted by or made at the invitation of Joseph Pennell, himself a keen lithographer, for his book on lithography and lithographers. Pennell commented in his book ‚ÄúMr Strang’s lithographs so far have been few, but those few have as marked a character as his etchings. They are mainly portraits, simple and dignified, with a touch of severity that has its charm. The one now given, an admirable example of his methods, is an excellent portrait of himself, so sincere and straight-forward a study that we can only hope Mr Strang will be induced to continue his experiments in a medium which he evidently finds so congenial.

We are grateful to Elizabeth Harvey-Lee for the above information


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William Strang
1859 - 1921

Born Dumbarton, 13 Feb 1859; died Bournemouth, 12 April 1921. Scottish painter and printmaker. Following a brief apprenticeship with a shipbuilding firm in Clydesdale, he entered the Slade School of Art (1876) where he adhered to the uncompromising realism advocated by his teacher Alphonse Legros. After completing his studies at the Slade (1880), Strang became Legros’s assistant in the printmaking class for a year. For the next 20 years he worked primarily as an etcher. His etchings include landscapes in the tradition of Rembrandt, pastoral themes indebted to Giorgione and macabre genre subjects, marked by a sense of tension and suspended animation. He also etched 150 portraits of leading artistic and literary figures. The commitment to realism and psychological intensity that characterizes the best of Strang’s etched work is also evident in the paintings that dominated the latter half of his career. The influence of the Belgian and French Symbolists’ work and Strang’s growing confidence in the handling of colour combined in his mature style with a linear clarity and schematic colouring that is best seen in such works as Bank Holiday (1912; London, Tate). His oil portraits, for example Vita Sackville-West as Lady In a Red Hat (1918; Glasgow, A.G. & Mus.), are strikingly potent images of their time. An important collection of Strang’s graphic work is in the Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow. His sons Ian Strang (1886’1952) and David Strang (born 1887) were also printmakers.


William Strang (1859 - 1921)
Seated Nude (reclining, three quarter view)
William Strang (1859 - 1921)
Self Portrait, 1910
William Strang (1859 - 1921)
Standing Nude, Rear View, Arms Raised
William Strang (1859 - 1921)
Self portrait, 154
William Strang (1859 - 1921)
The Green Cloak, Portrait of the actress Miss Barbara Horder, 1918