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Raymond Ray-Jones

1886 – 1942

Self-portrait wearing a Hat by Raymond Ray-Jones

Self-portrait wearing a Hat   1915-21

  Original etching.
Signed in pencil.
S 428 x 343 mm; P & I 330 x 247 mm
Outstanding impression of this magnificent self portrait, with excellent clarity of line and full tonal range. From the collection of A.P. Watt, Esq..

Raymond Ray-Jones’s masterpiece. Etched in 1915 and completed by 1921, depicting the artist in his late twenties, this plate is a tour de force of etching technique and is considered to be one of the great masterworks of the British Etching Revival.

After seven years working in the drawing office of the National Gas & Oil Co. Ltd. in his native Ashton-under-Lyme, Raymond Jones won a scholarship to the Royal College of Art in London in 1907. He studied the techniques of printmaking under Frank Short and painting with Professor Gerald Moira. In 1911, he moved to the Académie Julian in Paris and in 1913 he changed his name to Raymond Ray-Jones, partly for commercial reasons. He became an Associate of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers (R.E.) in 1914, subsequently becoming a fellow in 1926. He exhibited annually at both the Royal Academy and the R.E. throughout the First World War.

Raymond Ray-Jones’s great masterwork, his Self-portrait wearing a Hat, was first exhibited at the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers (R.E.) in 1915 when the image was around half an inch shorter than this published version (only 3 proofs of the early state of the plate were printed). This finished version of his self-portrait, completed by 1921, was shown at the Seventh Exhibition of Modern Masters of Etching held at the Leicester Galleries in London in 1922. All impressions were sold out on the first day of the show, and it was hailed with critical acclaim as “one of the finest etched portraits of contemporary times”. Impressions of this masterwork were purchased for the British Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum permanent collections, and in 1931 the artist received a specific order for a single proof of this portrait to be pulled for his Royal Highness the Crown Prince of Sweden.

This portrait has occasionly been incorrectly ascribed the title The Velvet Hat, in fact a much smaller work from 1926. More surpisingly, a date of 1910 is often ascribed erroneously to this etching – all impressions are signed Raymond Ray-Jones, the name which the artist only first assumed in 1913.

On pale cream laid paper, watermarked F J Head & Co, with full margins and deckle edge. Very good original condition. Image surface excellent.