The Lives of Others
‘Important Mischief’

...never again will a single story be told as though it were the only one...

(John Berger, 1972)

Taken at face value, portraits offer an intimate glimpse into a historical moment through the depiction of an individual – whether that takes the form of a painting, photograph, sculpture, or something else entirely.

Traditionally portraits were painted to record physiological likeness or character, or perhaps the wealth and status of the individual. Many artists, writers and theorists have considered what it means to successfully depict ourselves and others, attempting to make sense of the profound ways that the events of history have shaped and changed our personal relationships, as well as our own self-perception.

This display brings together a wide range of works from Leeds Art Gallery's collection, from the early 19th century to the present day. These include self-portraits such as Paula Rego's The Artist in her Studio or Walter Sickert's Self-Portrait to portraits of others such as John Atkinson Grimshaw's tender image of his daughter Portrait Head of Gertrude Grimshaw or Suzanne Lacey's portrait of a group of over 100 women in Whisper, the Wind, the Waves.

Through simple devices - such as putting works in close proximity to one another, and incorporating images that we might not automatically class as portraits - such as Tony Cragg's Postcard Flag (Union Jack) or Martin Naylor's sculpture Important Mischief - this display attempts to challenge and reformulate how we think about this familiar genre.

Photograph of the work of art: The Veiled Venus

Kuhne Beveridge (1877-?) and Ella von Wrede (1860-1904)

The Veiled Venus
1900
Bronze
Purchased at the Paris World Fair and given anonymously, 1900/1901
LEEAG.SC.1901.0094

Peter Blake (b. 1932)

Girl in a Window
1962
Mixed media
Purchased with the aid of a grant from the V&A Purchase Grant Fund, 1978
LEEAG.SC.1978.0021

Photograph of the work of art: Hooded Woman Seated Facing the Wall

Santiago Sierra (b.1966)

Hooded Woman Seated Facing the Wall
2003
Black and white photograph [edition no.4 of 6]
Purchased through the Contemporary Art Society's Special Collection Scheme on behalf of Leeds Art Gallery with lottery funding from Arts Council England, 2005
LEEAG.2005.0556

Photograph of the work of art: Postcard Flag (Union Jack)

Tony Cragg (b.1949)

Postcard Flag (Union Jack)
1981
Plastic
Presented by the Contemporary Art Society, 1982
LEEAG.SC.1982.0053

Photograph of the work of art: Important Mischief

Martin Naylor (1944-2016)

Important Mischief
1978
Mixed media
Presented by Jim Moyes through the Contemporary Art Society, 1995
LEEAG.SC.1995.0018

Photograph of the work of art: Rebbekah

Simon Fujiwara (b.1982)

Rebbekah
2012
Terracotta dyed plaster (figures) and video 7'33"
Purchased for Leeds Art Gallery through the Contemporary Art Society Collections Committee, 2013
LEEAG.2013.0267

Martine Syms (b.1988)

A Pilot for a Show About Nowhere
2015
Two-channel video, colour, sound. Running time: 24 minutes, 29 seconds. Edition 5 of 5 (+1AP)
Presented by the Contemporary Art Society through the Valeria Napoleone XX Contemporary Art Society (VN XX CAS), 2016/17
LEEAG.2017.0010

The LA-based artist Martine Syms, who works in publishing, performance, video and photography, often juxtaposes her own voice or appearance with found footage from the Internet, film and TV — particularly sitcoms — to probe linguistic and visual representation of gender and African Americans in the mass media. A Pilot For A Show About Nowhere [2015] provides a pastiched history of the depiction of African Americans in television, and is a pilot for an imagined sitcom by Syms called ‘She Mad’, which features re-enactments of events from her own life, as well as appropriated footage from a number of sources, including The Cosby Show.

A Pilot For A Show About Nowhere became part
of Leeds Art Gallery’s collection thanks to a scheme that encourages debate on the gender imbalance in museum collections by donating work of a living female artist to a UK museum each year.

Gifted to Leeds Art Gallery through the Valeria Napoleone XX Contemporary Art Society (VNXX CAS) initiative, 2017

Joseph Gott (1786-1860)

Medallion Portrait of Miss Harriet Gott
1836
Marble
Purchased with a grant from the Corporation Fund, 1967
LEEAG.SC.1967.0001.0001

Photograph of the work of art: Painting, 1950

Francis Bacon (1909-1992)

Painting, 1950
1950
Oil on canvas
Purchased by the Leeds Art Fund, 1951
LEEAG.1951.0015.LAF

Suzanne Lacy (b.1943)

Whisper, the Waves, the Wind
1984
VHS tape transferred to DVD
Purchased with aid of grants from the Art Fund and the V&A Purchase Grant Fund, 1994
LEEAG.1994.0003

Edgar Degas (1834-1917)

Portrait of a Woman: Head Resting on One Hand
after 1918
Bronze
Accepted in lieu of Inheritance Tax by HM Government from the estate of Lucian Freud and allocated to Leeds Art Gallery, 2013
LEEAG.2013.0088

Photograph of the work of art: Four Masks of Facial Expressions:
Violent Effort
Breathlessness
Fatigue
Exhaustion

Robert Tait McKenzie (1867-1938)

Four Masks of Facial Expressions: Violent Effort Breathlessness Fatigue Exhaustion
1902
Painted plaster
Presented by The Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, 1982
LEEAG.SC.1983.020.0001

Photograph of the work of art: The Artist in her Studio

Paula Rego (b. 1935)

The Artist in her Studio
1993
Acrylic on canvas
Purchased with support from The Art Fund, the V&A Purchase Grant Fund and the Leeds Art Fund, 1994
LEEAG.1994.0012

Photograph of the work of art: The Red Scarf

William Orpen (1878-1931)

The Red Scarf
c.1903
Oil on canvas
Purchased, 1905
LEEAG.PA.1905.0213

Photograph of the work of art: A Girl in Black

George Clausen (1852-1944)

A Girl in Black
1913
Oil on canvas
Bequeathed by Sam Wilson, 1925
LEEAG.PA.1925.0027.SW

Photograph of the work of art: A Little Child

George Clausen (1852-1944)

A Little Child
1888
Oil on canvas
Bequeathed by Sam Wilson, 1925
LEEAG.PA.1925.0028.SW

Photograph of the work of art: Self Portrait

Emily (Milly) Childers (1866-1922)

Self Portrait
1889
Oil on canvas
Presented by Emmeline Dean, 1937
LEEAG.PA.1937.0026.0006

Photograph of the work of art: Self Portrait

Walter Richard Sickert (1860-1942)

Self Portrait
c.1896
Oil on canvas
Presented by Miss Ellen Heath, 1942
LEEAG.PA.1942.0013.0001

Photograph of the work of art: Ellen Heath

Walter Richard Sickert (1860-1942)

Ellen Heath
c.1896
Oil on canvas
Presented by Miss Ellen Heath, 1942
LEEAG.PA.1942.0013.0002

Photograph of the work of art: Portrait of Tom Heron

Bruce S Turner (c.1894-1968)

Portrait of Tom Heron
c.1916
Oil on canvas
Presented by T.M Heron, 1964
LEEAG.PA.1964.0026

Photograph of the work of art: Fidelma No. I

Leon Kossoff (b.1926)

Fidelma No. I
1986
Oil on canvas
Purchased from Anthony D'Offay Gallery, with the aid of grants from the Leeds Art Fund, the V&A Purchase Fund, The Art Fund (Eugene Cremetti Fund) and with assistance from Anthony D'Offay Gallery, 1990
LEEAG.PA.1990.0020

Photograph of the work of art: Portrait

John Tunnard (1900-1971)

Portrait
c. 1958
Oil on board
Presented by Sheila Lintell, 1997
LEEAG.PA.1997.0022.0011

Photograph of the work of art: Five

Lubaina Himid (b. 1954)

Five
1992
Acrylic on canvas
On long loan from a private collection
LEEAG.PA.2005.0003.L

Photograph of the work of art: The Blue Hat

Jacob Kramer (1892-1962)

The Blue Hat
date unknown
Oil on canvas
Presented by Miss Dorothy Una McGigor Philips, 1946
LEEAG.PA.1946.0005.0001

Photograph of the work of art: Woman in front of a Leaded Window

Robert Macbryde (1913-1966)

Woman in front of a Leaded Window
c.1950
Oil on canvas
Purchased by the Leeds Art Fund, 1951
LEEAG.1941.0008.0001.LAF

Photograph of the work of art: The Family (Peasants)

William Roberts (1895-1980)

The Family (Peasants)
1934
Oil on canvas
Purchased, 1935
LEEAG.PA.1935.0009.0002

Photograph of the work of art: Mlle Nathanson in the Artist's Studio

Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940)

Mlle Nathanson in the Artist's Studio
c.1912
Oil on canvas
Purchased from Alex Reid & Lefevre, London, 1945
LEEAG.PA.1945.0022.0001

Photograph of the work of art: Portrait of Chloe Boughton-Leigh

Gwen John (1876-1939)

Portrait of Chloe Boughton-Leigh
c.1910-14
Oil on canvas
Purchased, 1955
LEEAG.1955.0002

Photograph of the work of art: Portrait Head of Gertrude Grimshaw

John Atkinson-Grimshaw (1836-1893)

Portrait Head of Gertrude Grimshaw
1874
Oil on canvas
Purchased with the aid of a grant from the V&A Purchase Grant Fund, 1983
LEEAG.1983.0027

Photograph of the work of art: Melita

Ronald Ossory Dunlop (1894-1973)

Melita
1931
Oil on canvas
Purchased from the artist through the Harding Fund, 1931
LEEAG.1931.0009.0003

Photograph of the work of art: Portrait of Mrs Mounter

Harold Gilman (1878-1919)

Portrait of Mrs Mounter
c.1916
Oil on canvas
Purchased from Arthur Tooth and Sons, 1934
LEEAG.1934.0015.0001

Photograph of the work of art: The Blue Blouse (Elene Zompolides)

Harold Gilman (1878-1919)

The Blue Blouse (Elene Zompolides)
c.1910
Oil on canvas
Purchased with admissions fees from Alex Reid and Lefevre, 1943
LEEAG.1943.0022

Photograph of the work of art: Reverie - Portrait of Madame Leon Maitre

Henri Fantin-Latour (1836-1904)

Reverie - Portrait of Madame Leon Maitre
1884
Oil on canvas
Presented by Charles Roberts, 1937
LEEAG.1937.0037.0011

Photograph of the work of art: Portrait of James Lounsbery

Christopher Wood (1901-1930)

Portrait of James Lounsbery
c.1922
Oil on canvas
Presented by R.P Barlow, 1938
LEEAG.1938.0031

Photograph of the work of art: Figure Undressing

Keith Vaughan (1912-1977)

Figure Undressing
1947
Oil on canvas
Presented by the Leeds Art Fund, 1951
LEEAG.1951.0001.0001.LAF

Photograph of the work of art: Lovers

Robert Colquhoun (1914-1962)

Lovers
c.1951
Oil on canvas
Purchased by Leeds Art Fund, 1951
LEEAG.1951.0015.0002.LAF

Photograph of the work of art: The Studio

William Orpen (1878-1931)

The Studio
c.1911
Oil on canvas
Presented by Alfred Jowett, 1952
LEEAG.1952.0031

Photograph of the work of art: Portrait of Thomas Edmund Harvey

Mark Gertler (1891-1939)

Portrait of Thomas Edmund Harvey
c.1912
Oil on canvas
Presented by the Trustees of Barmoor in memory of T.E Harvey and Irene Harvey, 1972
LEEAG.1972.0017

Photograph of the work of art: Portrait of Mrs Alice Harvey

Mark Gertler (1891-1939)

Portrait of Mrs Alice Harvey
1912
Oil on canvas
Presented by the Trustees of Barmoor in memory of T.E Harvey and Irene Harvey, 1972
LEEAG.1972.0018

John Lavery (1856-1941)

Interior - A Lady
1896-1903
Oil on canvas
Bequeathed by Sam Wilson, 1925
LEEAG.PA.1925.0116.SW

Percy Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957)

A Lady Reading
1921
Ink and watercolour on paper
Purchased with the aid of grants from the Art Fund, the V&A/MLA Purchase Grant Fund, the Leeds Art Fund, with support from the Patricia Hearst Bequest, 2015
LEEAG.2015.0023