About this artwork

William Strang was a talented painter as well as a masterly and prolific printmaker. His etchings include striking portraits of sitters such as Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling and Robert Louis Stevenson. Towards the end of his life Strang etched less and painted more. Inspired by Dutch artist Rembrandt, he produced a series of self-portraits in a variety of guises. This late work of 1919 is based on Rembrandt’s self-portraits in old age, painted during the last years of the Dutch master’s life. Like Rembrandt, Strang portrayed himself wearing contemporary head gear, with his body turned to the right but his gaze directed at the viewer. His expression can equally be read as one of tiredness, melancholy and discontent.

  • title: William Strang, 1859 - 1921. Artist (Self-portrait)
  • accession number: PG 966
  • artist: William StrangScottish (1859 - 1921)
  • depicted: William Strang
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Painting
  • subject: Self-portrait
  • materials: Oil on canvas
  • date created: About 1919
  • measurements: 53.30 x 38.10 cm (framed: 65.00 x 49.80 cm)
  • credit line: Purchased 1924
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve

William Strang

William Strang

Born in Dumbarton, William Strang was briefly a clerk in the family shipbuilding firm before he entered the Slade School of Art in London in 1876. At the Slade he was deeply influenced by the teaching of Alphonse Legros, particularly the etching class which Legros instituted in 1877. The subject matter of Strang's etchings, largely produced between 1880 and 1900, ranges from intense portraits to scenes of working class life and imaginary grotesques. By the turn of the century, Strang was developing the symbolic themes of his printed work in oil paintings, using rich colours in a style ultimately influenced by Venetian art.