Tempera on board, signed and dated ‘AUG 55’ bottom right
Image size: 13 1/2 x 10 1/2 inches (34.5 x 26.5 cm)
Royal Scottish Academy Exhibition 1958, catalogue No. 15
Purchased by C F Robinson
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This is a self-portrait of the artist with Lake Windermere behind. The finely painted subject is set against a well worked landscape (note details such as the birds resting in the branches of the trees). The separation of sitter and background gives the impression that the latter is a somewhat remote, distant and unreachable reverie.
At the time he painted this, Harrison was living on the edge of the lake with his family after he moved to the Lake District in 1950. Indeed, Harrison, along with his wife Audrey Johnson, became a greatly celebrated Lake District artist.
Harrison often set his works by Lake Windermere, as can be seen in the backgrounds of the various portraits he painted of his wife and son.
Interestingly, the angle that the artist has chosen to depict himself here (head tilted to the left) is exactly mirrored in a later self-portrait painted almost ten years after this one.
Harrison was born in 1922 in Leyland, Lancashire. He was married to artist Audrey Johnson in 1947. Harrison was educated at Preston College of Art between 1939 and 1941, before attending Liverpool College of Art from 1941 and 1942. Harrison also was a member of the Royal Air Force and served in Burma, India and China. On his return he then attended the Royal College of Art in 1947.
Harrison was a painter of murals, portraits, conversation pieces and imaginative figure compositions including harlequin-type and masked figures using a delicate palette. He was a member of RP, RA and RBA. He held various mixed and solo exhibitions including a show at the Contemporary Fine Art Gallery, Eton, in 1992. In 1991 he shared a show with his wife at Phoenix Gallery, Highgate.
Harrison published The Portrait Painters’ Handbook, 1968, and The Book of Tobit, 1969. His works are now held in multiple collections that include the National Galleries of Scotland, Yale Center for British Art and Guildhall Art Gallery.