We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


Self portrait



Weaver Hawkins

England, Australia

28 Aug 1893 – 13 Aug 1977

  • Details

    Media category
    Materials used
    oil on canvas on composition board
    59.5 x 45.0 cm; 69.0 x 54.0 cm frame
    Signature & date

    Signed and dated l.r. corner, black oil "Raokin. 41".

    Purchased with support of the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales through the Elizabeth Fyffe Bequest 2023
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Estate of HF Weaver Hawkins

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Weaver Hawkins

    Works in the collection


  • About

    The London-born Weaver Hawkins had an exhibiting career spanning 50 years. He produced a body of work that reflects a diverse range of influences from cubism to richly coloured modernism as well as the exacting forms of the new realism that gained prominence in England during the interwar period. Despite these varied stylistic shifts Hawkins ultimately claimed that ‘I am primarily a classic artist, an intellectual artist, an architectonic worker.’ Hawkins consistently sought underlying order, clarity, proportion and structure in his work, reflecting his fundamental belief in the ‘universal order in nature’.

    In London, Hawkins had studied at the Camberwell School of Arts before enlisting for military service in World War I in 1914. He was severely injured at Gommecourt, France in July 1916 and lost the function of his right hand. Retraining himself to paint with his left hand (which had also been damaged) Hawkins resumed his artistic pursuits in 1919 when he enrolled in the Westminster School of Art. Completing his studies in 1922, Hawkins embraced a peripatetic life throughout the next decade spending time between England and countries including Spain, France, Malta, Tahiti and New Zealand before arriving in Australia in 1935 and settling in Sydney with his family where he would remain for the rest of his career.

    Hawkins arrived in Australia as an artist of note, and in Sydney his career continued to flourish. He became an influential exhibitor at the Contemporary Art Society as well as with the Sydney Printmakers. The Art Gallery of New South Wales held a retrospective on the artist in 1976, a year before his death, attesting to the significance of this England-born artist in local cultural circles.

    Hawkins’ 'Self portrait' 1941 forms part of a striking series of portraits painted in a style of exacting realism that the artist produced of himself and his family. While Hawkins was determined not to be publicly defined by his injuries, in this private work, as with an earlier self portrait painted in London in 1923, Hawkins gives his wounded hand prominence in the imaging of his artistic identity.

    Hawkins’ 'Self portrait' is an exceptional statement of his artistic vision of clarity and proportion, while also subverting simple compositional balance. Hawkins paints himself framed by a series of reflected, tilted and diagonal angles, that skew the presence of a straightforward reality. The artist has toned down his more usual deeply saturated palette, instead setting his image to the dim glow of indoor electric light that casts a yellowish tone to his features and instils a mood of disquiet.

    Like his earlier 1923 self portrait, Hawkins’ aesthetic of clarity and order ultimately serves a self-image of defiance. With the upward tilt and foreshortened ground of the composition, the figure appears confident, even triumphant.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 3 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 5 publications

Other works by Weaver Hawkins

See all 74 works