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Robert Buhler RA, Portrait of John Davenport

Portrait of John Davenport, 1960

Robert Buhler RA (1916 - 1989)

RA Collection: Art

The literary critic and poet John Davenport was a close friend of Buhler and one of his favourite sitters. Buhler exhibited four portraits of Davenport at the Royal Academy in 1949, 1951, 1952 and this painting, his Diploma work in 1960. The best known of these works is that which shows the rather robust Davenport, dressed in a great coat and holding a cigar of 1952, which is in the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, New Brunswick.

Just a year before Buhler painted his Diploma work he said that:

‘The spacing around the sitter’s head is almost as important as the head itself. You only have to look at any portrait by Rembrandt, Velazquez or Goya – or Piet Mondrian – to realize this. If you don’t get the spacing right your portrait looks like a cinema poster.’ (John Phillips, 'Painter Paints Painter: Robert Buhler paints fellow R.A. Ruskin Spear', The Studio, June 1959, p. 176)

Although Buhler painted many commissioned portraits he particularly enjoyed painting friends from London’s artistic and literary circles. Among his sitters were Cyril Connolly, Peter Watson, Steven Spender, Ruskin Spear, Barnett Freedman, John Minton and Francis Bacon.

Object details

Title
Portrait of John Davenport
Artist/designer
Robert Buhler RA (1916 - 1989)
Date
1960
Object type
Painting
Copyright owner
Medium
Oil on board
Dimensions

1016 mm x 864 mm

Collection
Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
03/347
Acquisition
Diploma Work given by Robert Buhler RA accepted 1960

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